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Cuba 231, U.s. 73, Us 30, United States 29, Israel 19, America 14, Florida 9, Obama 8, Mr. Peters 7, Havana 7, Canada 7, China 7, California 6, Syria 5, Mr. Sosa 5, Texas 5, Spain 5, Turkey 5, New York 5, North Korea 5,
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  CSPAN    U.S. House of Representatives    News/Business.  

    November 25, 2009
    1:00 - 5:00pm EST  

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shared goal of israelis and palestinians to live in peace and security. it is also in the national security interest of the united states. it is urgently needed. the president knows achieving this goal will be difficult, but he also has said that he will not waver in his persistent pursuit of a comprehensive peace in the middle east. for that reason, he has dedicated himself and his administration to the resumption of israeli-palestinian negotiations and the creation of an atmosphere that maximizes the prospects for success. .
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>> that is why we have been urged the palestinians to expand and improve their security effort, and to take strong and meaningful action. it is what we have an urged the arab states to take steps of normalization with israel. it is what we have urged israel to stop settlement activity. as i said earlier, while they fall short of a full freeze, we believe the steps announced by the prime minister are significant and could have substantial impact on the ground. for the first time ever the
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israeli government will stop housing approvals and on the construction of housing units. and related infrastructure in west bank settlements. that is positive development. he said the only exception will be a small number of public buildings such as schools and synagogues within existing settlements. under the moratorium buildings under construction already will be completed, but the number under construction will decline since as each new building is completed there will not be a new building started. implementation of the moratorium could mean much less settlement construction then would occur if there is no moratorium. the steps announced today are the result of a unilateral decision by the government of israel. this is not an agreement with the u.s., nor is it an agreement
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with the palestinians. the u.s. policy on settlements remains unaffected and unchanged. at the president has said, america does not accept the legitimacy of continued israeli settlements. we recognize that the palestinians and other arabs are concerned because israel's moratorium permits the completion of buildings already started, and limits the moratorium to the west bank. they are concerns we share. as to jerusalem, the u.s. policy remains unaffected and unchanged. as has been stated by every previous administration which addressed this issue, the status of jerusalem and all other permanent status' issues must be resolved by the parties through negotiations.
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the united states also disagrees with some israeli actions in jerusalem affecting palestinians in the areas such as housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of palestinian homes. the u.s. has not accepted and it disagrees with any unilateral action by either party which could have the effect of pre- empting negotiations. as we and others have said many times, the way to move forward is to enter negotiations without preconditions and reach agreements on the two-state solution. a jewish state of israel living side-by-side in peace and security with an independent, continuous, continuous and viable palestinian state. as the secretary of state said today "today's announcement by the government of israel hopes
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to move forward toward resolving the conflict. we believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and recognizes the palestinian goal of an independent and a viable state based on the 1967 lines with the greed swaps and the israeli goal of a jewish state was secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent security requirements." let me say, our commitment to achieving a solution with two- states living side-by-side in peace and security is. is" that is the end of the secretary of state's quote. we're committed to the relaunch
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of negotiations and to the two- state solution. we will not be deterred by setbacks. we are determined to stay the course. thank you, ladies and gentlemen. i will now be pleased to respond to your questions. >> we thought you would come down here to say you are frustrated and would resign. but i guess that is not the case. [laughter] you will keep at it? >> i guess the question is, is this the best you could get, and will you try to sell it to the palestinians as the best that they could get? senior palestinian officials have come out to say this is not enough. anything will have to include east jerusalem. this as you have noted, does not. >> i will address the latter part of your question first,
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then return to your earlier comment. our goal remains the relaunch of negotiations as soon as possible in an atmosphere in which they can succeed. we recognize that the internal political situation is more challenging on both sides, especially in light of the after effects of the goldstone report. we have always intended that negotiations proceed on already attracts including high-level talks, parallel talks with the u.s. about key issues, and lower level, direct talks with the details are often worked out. given the current environment we think it makes sense to explore a relaunch of negotiations through a mix of these. the secretary said, we believe the differing views of the parties can be reconciled through good faith negotiations. as to your comment about being
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discouraged -- although there are many differences between the middle east and northern ireland, in this respect the experience is relevant. over a period of five years i chaired three sets of discussions and the main one lasted for nearly two years. most of that time there was little or no progress and our effort was branded a failure. the question you asked me today i was asked hundreds of times there. but then after two years of saying "no" zero sides said "yes." we had a 700 days of failure and one day of success. i know that if anything the middle east is more difficult and more complex. but a matter where the conflict is or what it is about if you
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are serious about peace, you cannot take as final the first no, the second no, or even the 100th no. you can i get discouraged by setbacks and you cannot be deterred by criticism. you have to be patient, persevering, and determined. neither the president, secretary of state, nor i have ever promised anything other than a total commitment to comprehensive peace in the middle east. there remains our commitment and our goal. >> given that you are hoping this will launch the final status talks, could you talk about any contacts you have had with president abbas since he announced he does not plan to run? do you think he is sincere? what has the u.s. been trying to do to convince them -- maybe they're not -- to stay on? >> i have had several meetings with meetingsabb with president
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abbas and we have encouraged him to remain in office and to work with this in achieving his long- term goal of a two-state solution which contains a contiguous and viable palestinian state. we hope he does stay and have to continue working with him. >> the palestinian authority has refused this offer because it does not include east jerusalem. how can you push them? >> as i said, we believe that the best way forward is to relaunch negotiations in an atmosphere in which they can succeed. we will encourage both sides to continue to take steps that will
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lead to that result and enable us to begin negotiations in a way that affords what i believe to be a reasonable and a good prospect of achieving what the palestinians want and what we want -- the two-state solution with an independent, viable, contiguous palestinian state and the state of israel living with secure and recognized borders. we will continue to pursue that. >> you have a 10-month window. is it long enough? what would you like to see happen? what would you like to see the palestinians do next? >> we would like very much to begin negotiations on the permanent status issue. as i said earlier, we think the best approach is a mix of
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contacts, direct, bilateral at some bearing levels, contacts with us for discussions on permanent status -- we hope that there will be substantial progress. my personal and fervent wish is that we will commit during this process at some point, however livhave a resolution of border so there will no longer be an issue about settlement reconstruction. so that israelis can build what they want in israel and palestinians can build what they want in palestine. we think that negotiations should begin as soon as possible. we hope that they will be time- limited. at the end of which all
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permanent status' issues will be resolved and the people of the region can achieve their objective. i want to be clear that while this discussion has understandably focused on the israeli-palestinian negotiations, when the president addresses and his vision of comprehensive peace he includes in addition to israel and syria, israel and lebanon, and the full normalization of relations between israel and all of its arab neighbors. we will continue to pursue those objectives at the same time. >> there is talk about terms of reference from the american guarantees to the palestinians so that they can resume negotiations including 1967 borders, and release of some prisoners. are there any american
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guarantees if you are preparing or terms of reference? >> we have been in discussion with both palestinians and israelis for some time regarding terms of reference for negotiations. we have closed many gaps between them. and while admittedly important differences remain, we have made very substantial progress. we continue to explore those and i will pursue them on my next visit which will be in the near future. to continue the dialogue and effort as part of trying to bring parties together. in addition, some of the points he mentioned represent steps that israel can take, and we have encouraged action in that regard as a means of the above steps to create an atmosphere
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toward conducive and constructive negotiations, and as ways to move us toward the final results. >> i noticed you did not in your statement call this "unprecedented," but came close to that. was there anything different between what israel has outlined today compared to what the secretary labeled as "unprecedented" when she was in the region a few weeks ago? is this superior to the unstated agreement that the bush administration had with the nation of israel? >> first i said that this has never happened before. if you look in the dictionary that is the definition of unprecedented. >> yes, but the word was loaded. >> nothing like this occurred
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during the bush administration. from 2000-2008 there were new housing construction starts on nearly 20,000 new housing units -- 9000 between 2004-2008. the moratorium just announced between the government of israel will be no new housing construction starts during the 10-month period -- none. the rubino approval of any housing projects during that 10-month moratorium, none. no israeli government has ever taken this step and nothing remotely like this occurred during the bush administration. >> the desk has just sent to me here, abbas' comments --
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pressing that is really put an end to -- which must have eased the jerusalem as its capital. could you talk to what you think it is in this announcement today by mr. netanyahu that you think the palestinians should find some optimism or hope here? >> anyone who opposes settlement construction, continued settlement activity as does the u.s. should take into account that under the maturthe moratorm today there will be much less someone activity than if there were no moratorium. that is a fact. now, we will continue in our efforts to persuade the parties
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that the best way forward is to enter negotiations with the u.s. as an active participant and supporter of the parties encouraging them in their direct talks to move forward. we believe it is the best way to achieve the common goal just of the leaders, but more importantly of the people they represent on both sides -- to be able to live in peace and security. we will continue to pursue that vigorously and to try to persuade both sides that the way forward is through negotiation and agreement. >> yes, senator, there are many cynics in the arab world who are saying that of washington could not get israelis and to completely freeze supplements
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how can they force them to withdraw to the 1967 borders? what kind of assurances can you give the arab world that these negotiations will be different? what can bet arabic government do to contribute to the success? >> as i mentioned briefly in response to an earlier question, and in my remarks, we have asked all of the arab governments to join in the effort to support the arab peace initiative, to take steps toward normalization of relationships with israel. we have not asked anyone to take the final step of full normalization. we have asked for gestures, actions, statements, and movement in that direction.
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for example, we are seeking and believe we have gotten a good response to a multilateral track in which several governments of the region would meet to discuss regional issues that they have in common such as energy and water which would follow the resumption of direct negotiations. it will not occur before them. but if direct negotiations can get under way we believe this could occur. this would operate to the benefit of everyone in the region. whatever country because of have to deliver with these important issues they all face in common. we think that increased contact, through political and non-local leaders, cultural and other exchanges, tribulations
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and other forms of contact for mutual benefit -- all of that can form an ever-strengthening of the support for the concept of normal relations throughout the region. now, in response to your first question -- of course, there can be no absolute, total guarantee in advance of what will occur in a negotiation. i said earlier that if you are serious you cannot take the first, second or 100th no for an answer. we have to continue to encourage and seek to persuade. the alternative is to accept for the people of the region endless conflict, never-ending this
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agreement, and the absence of opportunity and hope for the future. now, nobody gets everything they want in a negotiation. seeking to resolve the conflict like this. there has to be a willingness on everyone's part to give more than they want to give and to accept less than they want to get. that applies to everyone in the process. it takes time, patience, courageous leadership. i believe that it can and will be done for one overriding reason. is in the best interest of the people of the region. israelis, palestinians, and other araqbs.
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bs. a continuation of the conflict in further delay does not serve the interests of any of them. the leadership should commit themselves at the next generation. young people now growing up and those yet to come. they do not have to live through with the present leaders have had to. we believe that can be done and are determined that it will be done. >> thank you. mr. mitchell you're making it sound as though the israelis have given a concession by their decision today to temporarily phase out the building of new settlements which is an agreement that had taken place at an annapolis meeting years ago during the bush administration. asking the arabs also to normalize, take steps to
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normalize relations with israel is like putting the horse before the cart where it is supposed to be the result of a peace agreement. in the syrian report. -- i'm assyrian reporter -- syrian reporter. he had asked earlier if there was a road map to secure the peace negotiations that are supposed to take place in the future with this releaisraelis. you have any plan where steps to be taken one after the other that you could decide the parties must take? the you still recognize the
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united nations resolution, or any other? i need some explanation. >> thank you. i will attempt to provide it. [laughter] we have been consulting intensively with both israel and syria for months. we are seeking a mutually agreeable basis to resume talks and have strongly encouraged them to do so. both sides are well-aware that president obama's vision of comprehensive piece includes both israel and syria. we think it is an important part of the objective. i have met with the president and prime minister and discussed directly with them our hope and encouragement that peace talks be revived and will continue in that effort. until now while they both estate
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willingness, their differences on how to do so have prevented them. the government of syria wishes to conclude the indirect talks which were begun through turkey last year before going to direct talks. the government of israel prefers to go directly to direct talks without preconditions. we are attempting to find a mechanism on which both can agree because we think it is important that they begin the process. we want them to do so, want to support that effort in any way the weekend. that will continue. >> the last question -- the >> thank you. i'm with the turkish daily newspaper. you talked about the israeli/syrian talks and turkey has played a role in that. do you still see a role for
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turkey to play at this time? >> i have had several meetings with turkish officials including the president, prime minister, foreign minister, and others. and we welcome their for their participation, but that is a decision for the parties to make. whether or not they wish to continue the indirect talks in that manner. it will be up to them to decide how best to proceed. i have told the turkish officials and both syrian and israeli officials that we welcome that as one mechanism, and we welcome any mechanism that will result in progress. i intend to make this part of my discussion in my next visit. we do want this process to proceed not to the detriment of, not as an alternative to talks between israelis and palestinians.
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these are not exclusive alternatives. these both must happen. we believe they both should begin. we will encourage the parties. we ourselves will do all the weekend. thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. >> we take it to the white house now where president obama granted his first pardoned -- to "courage" the turkey spirit his thanksgiving table. he was joined by his two daughters for the tradition that dates back to the presidency of harry truman. this runs just under 10 minutes.
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>> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states. [applause] >> all right. happy thanksgiving, everybody. welcome to the white house. on behalf of both sasha and malia and myself we are thrilled to see. i want to think walter, chairman of the national turkey federation, and joel as president for donating this year's turkey. his name is "courage." he traveled here from goldsboro, north carolina where he was raised under walter's own precious care -- there you go [ turkey gobbled] now the national turkey federation has been bringing its finest turkeys to the white house for over 50 years.
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until that presidents eisenhower and johnson actually ate their turkeys -- you cannot fault them for that. that is a good-looking bird. president kennedy was even given a turkey with a sign around its neck that said "good eatin', mr. president"but he showed mercy and so let's keep them going. 20 years ago the first president bush issued the first official presidential pardon for a turkey. today i am pleased to announce that things to the interventions of malia and sasha, because i was planning to eat this sucker, "courage" will also be speared this terrible and delicious bit. later i will go to disneyland where tomorrow i'll be grand marshal of tomorrow's parade and just in case kurds cannot fulfil his responsibilities, walter brought along another turkey
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"carolina" as an alternate, a stand-in. later the saponin my daughters and i will take two other less fortunate brethren to martha's table, an extraordinary organization who helps folks here in washington, d.c. for those who needed the most -- and i want to thank the farm in pennsylvania for done it in those dressed birds for dinner. today i think all-told we have saved or created four turkeys. [laughter] [laughter] there are certain days that remind me of why i ran for this office. then there are moments like this -- where i part in a turkey and send it to disneyland. [laughter] but every single day in think will for the extraordinary
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responsibility that the american people have placed in me and i am humbled by the privilege that is to serve them and the tremendous honor is to serve as commander-in-chief of the finest military in the world. i want to wish a happy thanksgiving to every service member at home or in harm's way. we are proud of you. we're thinking of you and praying for you. when my family and i sit around the table to mileage is like other families are run america we will take time to give thanks for many blessings, but also remember this is a time when so many members of our american families are hurting. there is no question this has been a tough year for america -- we are at war and our economy is emerging from an extraordinary recession into recovery, but there is a long way to go and a lot of work to do. in more tranquil times it is easy to notice that drove many blessings, even easy to take them for granted, but in times
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like these they resonate more powerfully. when president lincoln set aside the national day of thanksgiving for the first time to celebrate america's fruitful fields in the strength and vigor of the american people it was in the midst of the civil war, just when the future of our very union was most in doubt. think about that -- when times were darkest president lincoln understood our american blessings signed brighter -- shine brighter than ever. this is an era of new perils but we are as over the people of compassion, ingenuity, limitless strength. we are the heirs to a hard- earned history and stores to a god-given the in this land. for all this we give our humble things to our predecessors, to one another, and to god.
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on this quintessentially american holiday as we give thanks for what we have got, let's also give back to those who are less fortunate. but remember those who cannot be with us. as we give thanks for our security, let think those who sacrificed, wherever they may be. before this turkey gets too nervous -- that he will scrap and forget his pardon, i hereby pardon of the" courage" said that he can live out the rest of his days in peace and tranquility in disney them. for every other american i want to wish you on behalf of myself, my daughters, and my wife a very happy thanksgiving.
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[inaudible]
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>> how many pounds is this bird? >> about 45 pounds. >> that would feed a lot of folks. >> here is the family who raised the bird. >> what did you feed him? >> the right stuff. >> all right. no performance-enhancing drugs or anything? [laughter] >> all right, thank you very much, everybody.
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>> from the white house earlier today where was announced that the president will address the nation on his new strategy for the war in afghanistan, to deny it from west point the u.s. military academy is a good to let his plans for the afghan conflict. live coverage on tuesday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. this evening, a house hearing on the national football league and its policies on player injuries, in particular head injuries. that is at 9:15 p.m. eastern here on c-span tonight. >> on this vote, the yeas are 60, nays 39, 3/5 sworn having voted in the affirmative it -- the motion is agreed to. >> with that but the senate moves its health-care bill to
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the floor. follow the entire debate and how the bill would affect access to medicare, the public option, taxes, abortion, and medicare, live on our companion network, c-span2. >> coming this thanksgiving. an american icons, three nights of c-span original documentaries on the icon accounts of the three branches of the american government beginning thursday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern, the supreme court, home to america's highest court reveals the building of an explicit detail through the eyes of supreme court justices, then spreading night at 8:00 p.m. eastern, the white house -- america's most famous son beyond the bill there ropes of public tours, our visit shows the grand public places as well as the really-seen places. then, the capitol, the history, art, and architecture. american icons, three memorable nights, thursday, friday, and
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saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. get your own copy. 3-disk dvd set. order it online. >> now a house hearing on the u.s./coup but travel ban. legislation has been introduced in both houses. it was first put into place in 1962. howard chairs the foreign affairs committee and this is just over three hours. >> the committee will come to order. in a moment i will recognize myself and the ranking member for a somewhat loose seven minutes each. the chair and ranking member of the subcommittee on western
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hemisphere for three minutes each, and all other members should they seek time for a tight 1-minute for the purpose of making opening statements. without objection all members may have 5 legislative days to submit opening statements or additional materials. without objection the chair made recessed the committee at any time. now will begin my opening statement. americans have the right to travel to iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism which seeks a nuclear weapons stability in violation of its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. we can go to north korea which threatens to destabilize east asia with its nuclear weapons. even during the darkest days of the cold war our citizens could visit the soviet union, yet the vast majority of americans are still prohibited by law from traveling to cuba. it is the only country in the world where our people are not
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allowed to go. i am no fan of the castro brothers. in my book their dictators and despots. the cuban people are still denied the right to choose their own form of government. they are jailed arbitrarily. they are denied a free press, freedom of assembly and of expression. at the recent beating of the renowned cuban blogger as she walked to a peace march says it all. but face it -- by any objective measure of the nearly 50-year- old travel ban simply has not worked. this fact is clearly understood by the american people. recent polls indicate 64% of americans and a full 60% of cuban-americans support allowing all american citizens to travel to cuba. it is clearly time for a change. this hearing is not about ending the entire cuban embargo. when president obama abolished
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travel restrictions on cuban- americans earlier this year he made it clear that the larger issue of the embargo and was a debate for another day. unlike the travel ban, the economic embargo does not implicate the fundamental human rights of its citizens. today we will focus on whether to scrap the restrictions on americans traveling to cuba. the ban has prevented given from -- contact from cubans and ordinary americans who served as democratic ambassadors. it would contribute to improving the image of the u.s., particularly in latin-america where the u.s. embargo on cuba remains a centerpiece of anti- washington grievances. proponents argue we should not make any change in the law without reciprocal gesture from the cuban regime. i believe is a huge mistake to treat the travel issue in this manner.
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letting u.s. citizens traveled there is not a gift to the casters. it is in our national interest in the waiting for a concession from havana before we do something on behalf of our own citizens perversely puts the cuban government in charge of that decision. i understand the concern that allowing americans to travel there would put money in the hands of the castros. the reality is a significant portion of these funds would also help the underground economy and the small self- employed sector, strengthening an important sector of independence from the authoritarian regime there. at the end of the day, the importance of depriving the castro regime of some additional financial resources is far outweighed by our interest in accelerating the spread of democratic ideas and supporting the development of the help the civil society in cuba. for too long our policy decisions about cuba, including
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the travel ban, have centered on hurting the castro regime rather than helping the cuban people. this has led to the worst possible outcome. in an effort to make the castros feel the sting we have made the cuban people cry. it is time to make the well- being of the cuban people the driving force behind our policy toward the island. lifting the travel ban will benefit both u.s. and cuban citizens. we need to let americans be beacons of hope. they will bring freedom with them. but thousands of u.s. visitors to away at the castro information monopoly with thousands of small cuts. but the residents of 19 u.s. cities actually travel to their sister cities in cuba. but americans and cubans openly discuss human rights and market- based economics, and hollywood movies on streets, bridges, and in cafes. and take the u.s. government out of the business of deciding what should be discussed in which americans should do the talking.
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the freedom to travel is an important thread running through american history from the settlement of the west to the road trips inspired by the author kerouac, to the travel in space -- this ban is a uniquely at odds to an american guy. except under the most extreme circumstances the government has no business telling us where we should go or with whom we should talk. -- this ben is uniquely at odds to an american guy. it is thought to be in the -- it is odd to decide which churches should visit in which artists should visiting of this is big brother at its
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worst. last week we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall. we we lived -- week we lived at the moment. there is also a wall in the keep in context. it is invisible yet very real. to the extent policies are erected, we need to begin to tear down. i want to experience the joy of day when cubans on the island and cuban-americans are reunited. it is time to restore the right of americans to travel to cuba. with us today to discuss this issue is a distinguished panel of witnesses who my will introduce shortly. before i do let me turn to the ranking member, the gentle lady from florida, who may have a different perspective on this. for any opening comments she might want to make -- the >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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i appreciate your bipartisan spirit. thank you to all the audience members for being here today. on january 21 this year i heard estimates that appear to telegraph to the world that the u.s. would hold the two regimes accountable for their actions, that our foreign policy toward caryn's but based on an overarching moral, political, and strategic u.s. objective of promoting freedom and democracy. on that historic day president obama said "to those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of the distant, the that you are on the wrong side of history. he added that the u.s. would extend a hand if, he emphasized, you are willing to unclench your fist." i commend president obama for restating his position earlier this year and restating his support for the u.s. embargo on
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the cuban dictatorship, calling on the regime to free all political prisoners. the president said "the cuban people are not free." proponents say to reward the cuban regime with tourism cash flows as the dictatorship tighten its stranglehold on the cuban people. let's have an honest debate on the issue of travel to cuba. there is no ban on travel to cuba. do not grizzly the american people. -- do not mislead the american people. there are 18 legal ways to travel there and they do. under general licenses and 10 under specific licenses. in addition to family, journalists, an official u.s. travel -- verifiable
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educational, religious, and humanitarian, athletic competitions, artistic performances, activities related to authorize u.s. exports to cuba of which there are many. many members of congress travel to cuba every year. some at taxpayers' expense, stay at the best hotels, some of which have been built on confiscated u.s. property and returned with nothing but the glowing reviews about fidel castro and his new face-man and current dictator, his brother raul. in april 1 of our house colleagues troubled and said this "it was almost like listening to an old friend." even more regrettable, many colleagues have sought to present the apartheid healthcare system as a model for the u.s. to emulate. a member of this committee during an august 28 town meeting
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praised the cuban regime healthcare system and said again "one of the brightest leaders i have ever met,"saying that breathless. they provide all the vestryman to foreigners and to the regime bleed while the nine dissidents in subject and political president's to electroshock treatment as treatment for their political beliefs. during the carter administration there were no restrictions on travel to cuba. did that make the cuban people any closer to freedom and democracy? i believe the response was responsemario boat lift. despite the onslaught of european visitors, visitors from mexico, especially when it comes
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to europe, from spain, canada -- canada since so many visitors to cuba. has the cuban regime unclenched its fist? just two weeks ago, the independent logg blogger and anr were detained and beaten to prevent them from participating in the march against violence. if is so erotic -- it is so ironic. it is so indicative of the castro regime. one week ago jose was fired from a chef from a restaurant for his opposition and for wearing a bracelet like the one that i am holding up. that is a crime in cuba. what opponents of the travel
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ban want is tourism to cuba. one of our colleagues has even joked, oh, let that custer brothers and it was spring break once or twice and we'll see how much control they still have. we have seen the image is in the news about spring break and how could anyone joke that lounging on these beaches or partying in the nightclubs until the wee hours will bring freedom and democracy to the cuban people? it is not funny. the majority of europeans and tourists from around the world have been going to keep the four rum, music, sex, cigars for years -- have they brought about democratic reform and change? one of our witnesses today highlighted in an editorial this year that the travel ban against south africa's apartheid government did play a key role
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in forcing a change by convincing the government that its practices were unacceptable and would not be condemned. cuban travel regulations and u.s. sanctions on that regime were developed to address u.s. security interests and foreign policy priorities and are based on solid legal ground the tourist sector is built on confiscated u.s. property. many restaurants closed to the average cuban are part of the uncompensated properties stolen from americans. i would we seek to profit such violation of u.s. party wrecked by promoting tourism to the island? second, the vulnerability lies and in the tourism sector. it is the single biggest source of income for the castro regime. in the same manner that the iran-libyan sanctions act
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enacted in 1996 to target vulnerability and the energy sector for iran and in the same manner that this committee three weeks ago adopted the sanctions act against iran to impose those targeted at their newest economic achilles' heel, so it is that the u.s. travel regulations are targeted at the tourism sector. tourism is to give a wide energy, investment, and refined petroleum products are to iran. third, it is in this nation, our nation's security interest to curtail travel there. as has been emphasized during congressional briefings, "the cuban but there is well- integrated throughout the tourism industry and this presents an excellent platform from which to conduct a wide variety of illicit activities due to the large volume of foreign visitors who travel in
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and out of these resorts, providing cuba with hard- currency." among other regime entities involved in the tourism sector [enterprise management group] which is a holding company for the cuban defense ministry -- this group holds a wide array of companies including [spanish name] which controls the gas companies, another which controls the hotels, and tourism which control the military counter-intelligence department and its support groups which have served as a channel for introducing cuban- born intelligence operatives and to other countries. they see tours travel as an important source of potential assets, a means of recruiting foreigners to spy for the regime. given the success of the cuban
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intelligence in recruiting u.s. academics, seeing your ins official, a senior a prominent defense official, another official -- the most senior cuban analyst at the defense intelligence agency, anna, to betray the u.s. and spy for the regime -- why would you want to facilitate potential of espionage activities by allowing unfettered travel to the island? just a few more points. fourth, the supreme court has said that travel to cuba can be restricted and support of u.s. foreign policy. the court held "there is an adequate basis under the due process of law to the fifth amendment to sustain the president's decision to curtail the flow of hard currency to cuba by restricting travel." that was the supreme court. fifth, the travel regulations also help to contribute to the
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safety of americans and enable us to minimize the risk to u.s. travelers to cuba. some have sought to justify the removal of all restrictions by comparing to but to iran. the germans started with that very comparison. i welcome such a parallel -- the case of iran illustrates the need for travel regulations by shining light on the safety and security issues associated with unregulated travel to countries under the control of rogue regimes. three american backpackers who got lost while hiking in a mountainous region along the iraqi-iran border which came by security agents in july are now being charged with espionage. the case with the iranian- american journalist sentenced to eight years in prison after iran accused your spine for the u.s. -- to spend four months in prison and was released in may. the director of the woodrow wilson international center for scholars was detained in iran in
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2007 in solitary confinement for more than 110 days. these are not trustworthy regimes. of. in several instances the cuban regime has seized the passports of dual nationals, denied the individuals permission to return to the u.s., cuban authorities consistently failed to notify the u.s. intersection of the arrests of cuban-american national's arrest and denied access to them." they also withhold the information concerning their welfare and treatment. i promote tourism travel to cuba? why not choose to go to the bahamas, dominican republic? haiti needs our help -- 1:00 there and try to help rebuild this island nation?
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promoting tours travel to cuba does not advance the interest of the u.s. or constituents. if you desire to go to a warm, tropical climate, come to my district, to miami, to key west, to any part of florida and the atlantic coast, go to the jersey shore, visit california, arizona. let's boost our own u.s. economies, our states' economies. do not fill the coffers of the castro regime. thank you to your chairman. >> at the time of the gentle lady has expired. the chairman of the western hemisphere subcommittee is recognized for three minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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i very much appreciate your calling today's hearing to discuss the issue of cuba and the travel ban. it is important to take a look of the broad policy as the internal dynamics in cuba as we review that ban. i support president obama's steps to move the ball ford on new u.s. policy toward cuba, but also believe that it takes two to tango. the president removed and thinly restrictions and made expanded communications links. these send important signals of the willingness of the u.s. to improve ties with cuba, but in response i have seen few if any reciprocal steps from the castro regime. unfortunately, cuba remains one of the most oppressive countries in the western hemisphere. i would like to see us turn the page on our approach with cuba. the time has not yet come. i also stand with president obama in continuing to support the embargo. i was at the summit of the
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americas with president obama and led the congressional delegation to the state's general assembly in honduras. i am pleased to report the administration's moves toward cuba have received a positive reception throughout the hemisphere. . . a positive reception throughout the hemisphere. at the general assembly the oas listed cuba's suspension from the organization. this was a delicate move carefully ably negotiated by secretary of state hillary clinton. it sent the message that the u.s. was willing to see cuba rejoin the oas if it increases the inter-american democratic charter. of course cuba has not adopted the principles and let me be clear the resolution did not clear the resolution did not react met cu in fact the cubans themselves say they do not want to rejoin the oas, thus the ball is now in cuba's court to abide by the principles of human rights and democracy and in body and the inter-american charter. as we move forward we should not forget that the u.s. is already
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a major source of humanitarian assistance to the cuban people and the largest provider of food to cuba. and agricultural products alone the u.s. sold over $700 million of goods to cuba making the united states cuba's fifth largest trading partner and 2008. i support president of hamas changes on cuba policy since it recognizes further liberalization also requires positive steps by the cuban government. especially in the areas of democracy and human rights. cuba must take steps to free hundreds of political prisoners and demonstrate respect for freedom of speech in the press. we need to see change in cuba to turn the page of history and forward our bilateral relationships. perhaps at that time we can change policy on the travel ban. in other words, using the reset button was to both sides of the u.s. cuba relationship. we've already moved forward. more steps by the castro regime to make tangible progress on democracy and human rights would provide even greater opportunities to move beyond the
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mutual the deletions found between the two countries. mr. chairman, thank you for calling today's hearing and i look forward to hearing from the distinguished witnesses. >> thank you for a much of the time of the gentleman's expired. the ranking member of the western hemisphere committee, the gentleman from florida, mr. mack. >> thank you, mr. chairman and i want to thank the ranking member and associate myself with all of her comments. mr. chairman, cuba is a totalitarian regime that has oppressed and punished the to the people for more than 50 years. we all support the right, at least i hope we all support the right of the cuban people to live in a free and space society. but we differ strongly and passionately on how to help the cuban people achieve freedom. at today's hearing we explore how to give a bailout to the castros. instead of holding a hearing on human rights conditions in cuba we have decided to hold a hearing on how fast americans to make a reservation on orbits so they can spend the night of the
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cubin hotel where cubans are not allowed or whether americans can drink motor tows a few feet away from political prisoners. mr. chairman, we must remain steadfast in our opposition to the brutal castro regime that murders, tortures, rapes and systematically eliminates any opposition to its ironfisted for will. canadians and europeans have been traveling to cuba supporting the castro regime for many years. some have said that by opening to but to travel it would promote political and economic change from the castro's repression. nothing could be further from the truth. let's look at some numbers. 2.1 million, that is how many tourists visit cuba 2007. over 2 billion. that is the number of dollars generated by tourism and cuba on a yearly basis on hundred two. that is how many attacks against cuban journalists have happened in the past year.
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number three, that is the number of cuban agents who threw a blocker headfirst into in on marked black car and beat her for speaking about freedom. this isn't a few years ago, this is a few weeks ago. over 300. that's the number of political prisoners in cuba. zero, zero is the amount of change we have seen from the castro's, mr. chairman. some of my colleagues and some of our witnesses will say that 2 million tourists and $2 billion figure in tourism is not enough to bring change to cuba and that instead we must support and fund the inhumane activities of the castro brothers. let's call it what it is. this is a castro bailout, mr. chairman. a bailout for beating, a bailout for repression, bailout for rape, bailout for torture and for corruption. a bailout for tire any.
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mr. chairman, going sightseeing to view political prisoners will not bring democracy to cuba. america has always stood for freedom and a bipartisan manner we have to endeavor to spread the light of liberty of the repressed castro regime. now is not the time to change policy and start appeasing and funding the castro plan. a fleet of liberty is a powerful one, mr. chairman. let's work together to support the right of the cuban people to live in a free and space society. >> the time of the gentleman has -- >> you're right, the cuban people are crying, mr. chairman because -- >> the time of the gentleman's expired. mr. mack, the time is expired. [applause] we can get into cheering all the different views on the different sides, i think the hearing will be much better if we can feel --
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feel the sympathy with a particular position but not explicit in a ball you will wait. who next in seniority on the majority side, which is to take a minute? the gentleman from massachusetts -- the gentleman from massachusetts? >> thank you, mr. chairman -- >> recognized for one minute. >> of course at some level this hearing is about the united states and cuba and the bilateral relationship. but let me suggest that it's very core, it's really about american democracy because the travel ban is not a sanction on cuba. it's accomplished nothing in 50 years. it's a sanction on american citizens by our own government. a sanction on our freedoms, sanction of our liberties and to
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suggest ending the travel ban should be conditioned on the actions of the cuban government would mean the communist cuban regime would decide when americans could exercise their liberties, their freedoms, their right to travel. howell absurd, how outrageous. it's time to trust the american people. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. next -- the gentleman from new jersey, mr. smith, is recognized for one minute. >> thank you. in 2001i offered amendment to the treasury appropriations bill to facilitate lifting the travel ban, but if and only if certain fundamental human rights conditions were met. one, release all political prisoners, and second, return to the united states of those murderers and felons joann a
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woman convicted and sentenced for the brutal execution-style murder of the new jersey state trooper werner foerster. ..
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attracting interest in their culture and american dollars. i do not believe tourism is the silver bullet that will reduce poverty, in coverage democracy and restore social equality. however, there is value to opening the doors of tourism to cuba. tourism is a dialogue and even if only indirectly with the cuban people. it signals our openness to discourse and i believe this will give hope to cubans wishing to return to their homeland. so i look forward to hearing the testimony of our panelists. i want to thank you for the hearing, mr. chairman. of our panelists. i want to thank you for the hearing mr. chairman. >> the time of the gentlelady has expired.
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the gentleman from-- mr. berman. >> i appreciate you having this hearing mr. chairman. i wish everybody concerned about this would talk to a man who spent years and years and economy nisku lutt and listen to what he has to say. every single dollar that goes to cuba helps castro. they exchange that money and they pay those people down there in the local currency, and they get a pittance for the work they do. there is 10 million people in communist gulags in communist china. we do business with them but they have been changed in vietnam. this is 90 miles from our coast. 90 miles from our coast and they are working with chavez in south america. they arm working with the communist movement and they are still a threat to the united states. we shouldn't send any money down there, not a dime.
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except maybe for humanitarian purposes until this regime is removed. they need democracy in cuba. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. please, we will hear your applause. the gentleman from new jersey, mr. sires is recognized for one minute. >> thank you mr. chairman. lifting travel restrictions could send countless american tourists to cuba and win a tourists visit the i lend their money does not help the cuban people. it does not trickle-down to the cuban people. it goes into their pockets of an oppressive government. by lifting travel restrictions we in equivocally are funding an oppressive regime. the suppression of the cuban regime is systemized and
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constant. oe couple of weeks ago agents rounded up and beat blogger yoani sanchez and others on their way to a peaceful demonstration to prevent-- from the human-rights and denounce violence and for this they were beaten. just yesterday human rights say 123 page report detailing atrocities conducted by the cuban regime. the reports document warranted threats, violent attacks, the arrest and imprisonment. this is the reality in cuba and his this oppressive activity that increased travel would help fund. is that it? >> that is set for now. the gentleman from california, mr. royce the you see recognition? >> yes, i do. mr. chairman promoting this type of travel to cuba might be a good strategy if it would promote democracy or human
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rights, or our security. it won't. or if tourists dollars spent their empower the average cuban or help to build civil society, or escapes the regime's route. they don't. or if the american tourists would be free to interact with all cubans holding open conversations. they won't. i do wonder who frolics on the beach knowing that freedom seeking cubans are brutalized nearby or is one witness testifies watches michelle real life puppet shows of repressed cubans hailing the dictator. that is the tourists industry. some don't recognize we have determined dangerous enemies. i do. empowering the security apparatus of cuba a terrorist state is a very long way to go. thank you mr. chairman. the the time of the gentleman has expired.a @ @ @ @ @ a
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, travel and trade restrictions without risk -- reciprocal actions only undermines our efforts to improve human rights and might embolden a castro regime in its twilight. wallace in the eyes of the plight of those with family in cuba i believe we cannot afford simply to give away what leverage we still have over the castro regime if we are seriously intending to realize improvements to the committee on the families here in america, and i yield back. >> the time for the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from arizona is recognized for one minute. >> when i was elected to this office i thought i was being elected to the member of congress and not a travel agent. the discussion already today we are being told, you got to travel to bermuda or haiti but
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not to cuba. i would suggest, that is not our role here. if we want to be a travel agent, be a travel agent. otherwise, some people think -- myself included -- we would actually promote democracy by allowing americans to travel to cuba. myself included we will actually promote democracy by allowing americans to travel to cuba. some people are on the other side and don't believe that. after 50 years i think the arguments are on my side, let's call it a drop for that is a draw shouldn't the default the freedom? this is not a sanction on cuba. this is a sanction on americans. we can leave the discussion about the embargo for another day. this is a discussion about will we allow our constituents the freedom to make their own choice on where to travel and not tell them we want you to travel here and not there. i yield back. >> the time of the gentleman has expired.
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the gentleman from american samoa mr. deleo mcveigh. >> i would like to say for the record my utmost respect for those of a colleague whose lives and families are directly affected by the castro regime. i've heard stories of how they left their homes and belongings for fear of their lives and how they have had to escape cuba and come to america. mr. chairman this is a very emotional issue, one that i can say is not a democratic or republican issue. this is an issue about america and whether not the restriction given on us, the american people and their right to travel as they please, i think this is really the question. whether it will bring greater democracy to cuba i think i share the gentleman from arizona's sentiments. the idea here are is are we restricting the rights of all americans wherever they want to go, whether it be cuba or in any country in the world. we go to china at but certainly not all the freedoms are in
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china and i have a lot more to say but i thank you and i yield back. >> the time of the gentleman has expired and the gentleman from south carolina mr. wilson is recognized for one minute. >> thank you mr. chairman. i agree with ranking member ileana ros-lehtinen. i groban charleston south carolina during the height of the cold war. i firmly believe lifting the travel ban only serve to enrich the corrupt cummin is the lead. i am hopeful that castro's rule over cuba will be coming to an end soon. when this happens this will allow the people of cuba and the united states to find the engage in a democratic process. waterboard someone who for decades has threatened the american people with parm? some may say opening up cuba will allow the people there to achieve better lives. for decades european countries have permitted millions of tourists to travel to cuba but
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the current regime continues to govern by force, instilling fear in its people. it should be noted the private humanitarian missions are permitted and legal under u.s. lauper could change in u.s. policy should be based on changing cuba. >> the time of the gentlemen has expired. does the gentleman from new york seek recognition? the gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> i just want to quote from the state department 2009 country description by the bureau of consular affairs in cuba. queue but is a totalitarian police state which relies on repressive methods to maintain control. these methods include intense physical and electronic surveillance of cuban citizens and foreign visitors. americans visiting cuba should be aware any encounter with the cuban citizen would be subject to surreptitious scrutiny by the general director for state security of cuba. also any interaction from
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averaged cubans regardless of how well-intentioned can subject a cuban touma rosman and/or detention and other forms of repressive actions by state security elements. the government of cuba bases much of its legitimacy on being opposed to the u.s. government. nevertheless it needs to earn hard currency through the tourist industry prins that to encourage tourism from any source. again mr. chairman i did make that up. that is from the state department's 2009 country description and i would submit that to the record for thought on those who would lift the travel ban. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from florida has already had his time. the gentleman from texas. >> mr. chairman instead of resting missiles keeble harbored convicted terrorists baez and prisons its own people and calls them political prisoners and the profits from the so-called tourism that we are talking about which included
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$2.7 billion last year goes not to the people but directly to the cuban intelligence and its military. why would we in our right mind ever want to help subsidize the enemies of the united states and this, we are talking about sending americans to hotels that just like in the old soviet union days when i was in moscow in the '80s the russian citizens couldn't go in those for good they were all for tourists in the same is true in cuba but it seems unconscionable to me that we would encourage our citizens to vacation while cubans are persecuted by their own governments by the castro brothers and i think the travel ban should remain in effect. thank you mr. chairman. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentlelady from california, ms. woolsey is recognized. >> i briefly want to say as we are listening to were witnesses and to each other, we have to
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make, we have to know how many other countries that we as americans traveled to that aren't democracies that don't have human religious rights that we would agree with, and ask our question, why should we treat cuba any differently and i yield back. >> the time of the gentlelady has expired. the gentleman from florida to you seek recognition? gence auman bilirakis is recognized. >> the idea that increased travel would have an impact on openness think you but is misguided. castro is the problem, not american policies. we should not be in the business of perpetuating the castro regime propaganda apparatus that blames the west or the island suffering. lifting travel restriction would directly provide tourist dollars to the marxist regime in order
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to fund its tools of oppression. there is no free market in cuba, just a giant money laundering machine for soviet era policies that otherwise met their demise with the fall of the berlin wall 20 years ago. we must maintain travel restrictions to prevent the regime from using tourists dollars to further oppress the cuban people. thank you mr. chairman. i yield back the balance of my time. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentlelady from california, ms. lee. >> cuba is then the only nation in the world where americans are forbidden to-- traveling to afghanistan, or burma. americans are travel-- free to travel to and the island and our president just completed a very successful visit to a communist country, china. by any objective standard our current policy toward cuba just
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has not work. it is clear to me when i travel to cuba in the mid '70s as a congressional staffer and it is even clearer to me over three decades later earlier this year and led a congressional delegation to cuba. we believe there are new opportunities to rethink u.s. policy with their nearest caribbean neighbor. americans should not be denied the right to travel to cuba. americans have become isolated. we should be free to be part of the global community. it is their democratic right to travel to cuba. we don't want to deny our citizens they are free democratic rights based on what regime or what government is in place. >> the time of the gentlelady has expired. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> the gentlelady from nevada. >> thank you mr. chairman. i would like to thank and applaud and incorporates by reference the eloquent
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statements of the ranking member ileana ros-lehtinen. i believe her comments were spot on. i'm opposed to lifting the travel restrictions to cuba unless and until castro passmore cuba at the least reforms its behavior and that the very most changes its regime and i am a little baffled by mr. flake's comments. i don't think anybody here was acting like a travel agent but if i could capitalize on what ileana said, if you have a great desire to go somewhere, let me suggest you don't go to florida you come to las vegas instead of cuba. >> the gentlelady, the leader of the tourism caucus has expired. [laughter] the gentleman from indiana, mr. pence is recognized for one minute. >> thank you mr. chairman. i find myself in one of the rare moments where i disagree with my colleague from arizonan.
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we are usually pressed hard against the railing on the right together, but on this one we will agree to disagree. but i do so respectfully and not at state travel agent. as we all know travel to cuba is not banned for colbert actually 18 categories for which travel to cuba is permitted. what is restricted and what this hearing primarily boils down to his tourists travel. i am not talking about opening cuba's free and open tourist industry. there is no such thing. what we are talking about tilson services that they into the pockets of cuba's government in military. the average cuban citizen can't even approach these exclusive hotels. those were permitted to be there for work are not paid adequately and are required to restrict party lines. those who argue for lifting the travel restriction say that cuba will end up democratically.
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>> the time of the doesn't has expired. >> i ask unanimous consent to submit my entire statement for the record. >> we will be coming back for the question period. the gentleman from new york, mr. meeks is recognized for one minute. >> it just seems to me we fight for freedom in this country and therefore it seems that with this hearing is simply about the freedom of the american people being able to choose where they want to go. this is the only country with the americans have placed upon ourselves a ban of travel. i hear a number of members talk about some of these other countries that are so bad yet we don't have these other countries as we have on cuba, so it seems to me that the only place where there's even a tourists trap ban in the world that the place on ourselves is in cuba but yet we have some of these other
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governments that are communist and i hear members talking about how bad the place is but yet they have visited these places. leave it up to the american people. those who don't want to go won't. those who do well but leave that up to the american people to make the choice because that is what freedom really is about. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from georgia, mr. scott. >> i think i've listened to both sides of the argument here and i think that we have an excellent opportunity. where we have been is we are at a stalemate, no question about the violation of human rights and no question about where we have gone in terms of our gains in economic exchange with cuba but doing nothing keeps us where we are. why not use this opportunity to get something out of it? i say yes, let us open up and let us travel. we have got to understand that
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ban does not stop the travel. what the band does it stop the money, the finances from going there. this is a multibillion-dollar deal and we need to go to the kester brothers and say let's make a deal. we will open up this band and stop this and bring the tourists in, bring the billions of dollars in debt you have got to do this. you have got to release the prisoners. you have got to do something about the human rights and let us remember i believe having more americans on the streets in cuba will help us to move quicker to a democracy in cuba. >> the time of the gentleman has expired and the gentleman from florida is recognized. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for allowing me to speak to an important issue to ourself for the commission. i have always supported a common-sense cuba travel policy in that believe family members should not be separated so i did support president obama's changes to u.s. policy which
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allowed for limit, lifting of restrictions on travel and remittances for americans with family members in cuba. the goal is to ensure that cuban-americans are able to move freely to visit their families. this is a large step and the cuban government should not squander this new willingness and this opportunity tp@xh with promptly. i think that chairman. >> the time has expired and now our final recognition before we get to the witnesses, gentle lady from texas, mrs. sheila jackson lee is recognized for one minute. >> thank you very much and too wide for the cooperation of this hearing. a few years ago i was involved with the tragedy of gonzales, a
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lot -- eleian gonzales. him. i indicated in my preference after meeting the grandmothers who lived in cuba that he should be returned to family. as i did that i did not ignore the family members who were here and united states and i frankly believe he could have the benefit of all family members so i think it is important we open the door of opportunity and that we recognize that as we have opened the doors to china, that is not perfect. we open the doors to cuba and our intervention and involvement is critical. at the same time we asked for concessions, interaction with the cuban government and if we do that, we make america the greater country and we work together with the cuban people.
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led this left the embargo. >> the time of the gentlelady has expired. all time for one minute questions has expired. we are now going to turn to our expert panel of witnesses one who will be with us by videoconference. first, i will introduce all of the witnesses. general very mccaffrey is president of his own consulting firm based in arlington va. he is an adjunct professor of international affairs of the united states military academy at west point and serves as a national security and terrorism analyst for nbc news. from 1996 to 2001 general mccaffrey served as the director of the white house office of national drug control policy. prior to that general mccaffrey served as the commander-in-chief of the u.s. armed forces southern command coordinating national-security operations in latin america. ambassador james cason is
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currently president of the center for free cuba. he is a retired career foreign service officer with 30 seconds-- 30 years varients. it just seemed like 30 seconds. [laughter] he was nominated by president bush to be u.s. ambassador to paraguay and confirmed by the senate prior to this posting in paraguay. ambassadors cason was chief of mission at the united states intersection of cuba from september 10th, 2002 until september 10, 2005. ambassadors cason retired from the foreign service in 2008. by videoconference miriam leiva has been a human rights activist and independent journalist since 1995. in 2003, she was one of the founders of the ladies-- a woman organization that advocates for cuban prisoners of conscience.
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in september 2008 she left the movement to focus on journalism and direct aid to cuban prisoners of conscience and their families. a former cuban diplomat, be laid low was expelled in september 1992 for lack of political confidence and when she refused to divorce her husband and, independent journalist and economist oscar espinosa. after he was accused of being a counterrevolutionary. ms. leiva will testify by videoconference from the united states intersection in havana q but and there is a 42nd delay in the transmission of what she will be saying. ignacio sosa is a board member of friends of bright siskel bata, a nonprofit organization that raises aid for the only non-governmental humanitarian organization with a national reteaching cuba. he is a former executive board
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member of the cuba study group. mr. sosa has been active in seeking and into the isolation of cuba and testified previously before the international operations and human rights subcommittee on lifting traveling remittance restrictions for cuban-americans. burt the antunez is the cuban citizen who is an active in human rights in cuba. ever since she became aware of abuses committed against our unjustly imprisoned brother, jorge luis garcia perez she came together with a group of other key men mothers in defense of prisoners' rights. in the early 1990's she helped create the national movement for civic resistance, pedro luis cordell, to fight to harassment against their relatives in prison. her movement has been active venturing prisoners rights and publicizing human rights abuses against political prisoners. our last witness is philip
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peters vice president of the lettington institute. he served in the state department's latin american bureau during the reagan and george h.w. bush administration. he has reported on cuban economic topics and analyzed u.s. policy towards cuba for more than a decade and rights the blogged, the cuban triangle. thank you all very much for being with us and general mccaffrey why don't you start. >> mr. chairman thank you and congressman ros-lehtinen for the opportunity to be here to join this distinguished panel. i think it is inappropriate time to address this issue. let me if i may add, i provided most of you with a copy of some of the work i've done particularly an op-ed i submitted to the "miami herald" a few months back dealing with this issue. a couple of thoughts. in january i will be back in
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cuba again to, as an adjunct professor in international affairs to listen to the situation on the ground to try to learn how we can move forward in the coming years to bring back into the community of nations the cuban people from which they have been isolated while under the control of the totalitarian regime for the better part of 50 years. i take great sympathy with every remark made dealing with the suffering of the cuban people both economic and political. in january i will also be the head of the delegation from the vietnam veterans memorial fund where we will again visit vietnam, a place i fought on three combat tours where we suffered 58,000 killed in action, over 300,000 wounded were the vietnam veterans, 3.5 million have reached out to the vietnam people. i mention that just to put in
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parallel a viewpoint that i find our current policy toward cuba both in terms of the tourism ban as well as the economic embargo to not make sense. it doesn't work and more importantly we have got mr. castro with 1 foot in the grave and the transition to power looming in front of us in the coming few years and i would argue we want to engage with these people and try and bring them back into the rule of law in the coalition of the democratic states. again i would understand the oppressive nature of the regime. i bumping tourism in and of itself is going to blow away this mansell of oppression but i do think it will allow the freedom of the american people to directly engage with the cubans. i think our interests are served by lifting this tourism van. i might add, and i say this as sort of a hard-nosed national
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security professional, i do not believe the cubans in any way are a significant threat to our national security interests. i think they are very high energy intelligence service is primarily a defensive measure in which they see us as their principal an overwhelming threat. i also think they are paranoid about it which i tell them frequently. i think it is silly for them to think we are going to take military action against cuba. right now 11 million people desperately impoverished except for the communist elite few are wearing good clothing, driving cars. i had an opportunity to travel but the actual military capabilities of cubans are almost nonexistent and i don't think that is a national security threat. ..
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their totalitarian stripes. i believe that no significant change is possible in cuba while those to live. if i fought trade, tourist travel and investment with a miracle cure for ending a dictatorship i would be the first to advocate a change in policy. but there is simply no historical precedent or
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rationale for the argument. we to thickly here for arguments for liberalizing travel. the first is flogging will instill greater your and your understanding of democracy in cuba, secondly tourist spending will help average cubans, third, leading the regime feels so we should try something different, and finally the libertarian argument that americans have a constitutional right to go wherever they choose. starting with a let's flood them with taurus proposal, why will this help bring democracy to cuba? it's because the cuban authorities strictly limit and harshly penalize the interaction of ordinary cubans with foreigners, and about the only cubans tourists are going to meet our hotel workers. there are 103 hotels catering to foreign tourists in cuba. 67% of these are located in the low remote keys. there are only 5,632 rooms for about 10,000 tourists in havana, a city of 2.1 million that works
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out to one tourist per 110 cubans. tourists are simply diluted in the sea of cubans. the regime charges average cubans the highest rack rate possible to stay in tourist hotels. that means a night stay would require an average cubin salary for a year, and that's why you're not going to find a regular cubin in your hotel. the cubans the tourists are permitted to see and try and be questioned are trained to say the right thing. there's another problem with the flawed argument to get you americans speak spanish well enough to hold a conversation on mobocracy or anything else with an average cuban who are so rarely speaks. they go for rahm, cigars, songs and sex. they don't go to cuba to sprick democracy. at any rate most to been stalled democracy and freedom are. the of relatives, million abroad. they don't need need to be convinced to love or understand dom mokrzan. with the need is a way to influence regime behavior.
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tourism and trade have now brought down to a totalitarian regime anywhere in history. that's because dictators refused to let tourism to its alleged subversive work. if castro thought he could not control tourism, he simply wouldn't have allowed them in. but they can control them well. in the last decade alone 15 million tourists from democracies have visited the island including several hundred thousand americans. despite this, cuba is not democratized or even liberalized, in fact gone backwards. if tourism had any value as a catalyst for democracy would be the polyglot europeans would have a better chance of engaging cubans, yet there is absolutely no evidence of any liberalizing impact of their stays or in print of their footprint on the regime behavior. it would be more accurate to attribute a strengthening of the state security apparatus to their expenditures since the cuban military owns a hotel the stadium and gets first crack at the cash flow. what about cuba american travel? they spend a lot of money there.
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and support humanitarian grounds but nothing has come or can result from the cuban-americans visits because they are -- have to get to the new passports, they are screened, monitor, they are video. if they miss the eighth day are expelled or never allowed back in, and they don't want to jeopardize their chance of returning. therefore, they don't get into trouble cuba treats cuban-americans as citizens. it does not recognize dual citizenship, so a cuban-american who gets into trouble would be denied access and so they stay out of trouble. the final thought, when american cubans -- american tourists want to go to cuba during winter and on vacation the island's 33,384 and five-star hotel rooms are booked solid with canadians and europeans. with fidel oust them to make room for americans? what he want to be dependent again on fickle americans in this critical industry? american policy? i doubt it. now to the argument that tourist expenditures will trickle down to the average cuban jose.
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again, 15 million europeans have spent tens of billions of dollars there. dollars there. the benefits the exclusively to the tourists come by very little from average cubans. and a hotel worker gets to keep very little of what a tourist spends, only 5% of the salary that goes to the joint venture partners. they can't unionize, complain, fight back. again, the cuban military controls the tourist industries. the third argument reflects -- a change in travel policy reflects expects -- exasperation to meet dos castro. the cry comes out, let us try something different. but what would be in a policy before us has already been tried and is policy engine it just
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about every other country in the world and there has been no positive impact on human and other fundamental rights as a result. or other fundamental rights in cuba as a result. everyone in the world about us talks come in cages, interests, travels and trades freely with regime, even the wherewithal to survive. and we allow hundreds of thousands of cuban-americans to take good and cash into cuba, and we saw cuba a good percentage of its food. again, what impact does this have on the raging? that they released political prisoners, allowed free elections, open the internet, given labor rights, allow families to start businesses or given to vince the right to travel freely and live where they want? no. lifting the travel ban now will amount to be giving away future leverage for nothing in return. we should hold this in reserve until the demise of the castro brothers and an end to the travel ban should be used as leverage as a carrot in support of those in the future transitional regime who will have a voice and whether cuba
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goes toward more or less freedom. and regarding the so-called rights of travel of americans to go anywhere they want, the supreme court fold in 1984 and reagan versus all americans do not have a constitutional right to go where they want if the government has a policy reason not to allow that travel. so before we normalize relations with cuba, the regime must show its moral, it must engage in dialogue with its own citizens. normalization is not in and of itself. we can't normalize with a totalitarian regime or cast aside a longstanding focus on human rights in cuba and request to do something different or in our haste to and the cuban problem as a foreign policy issue. normalization will result from cuban actions respect internationally recognized obligations and principles. and as we debate the future of our cuba policy, let's not seize our support for dissidence in civil society. people on the island who want a say in what is best for their future. thank you. >> thank you, ambassador. and now from havana, ms. leiva,
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it is your turn >> please allow me first a few words in spanish. [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish] ladies and gentlemen, my husband and i deeply appreciate this occasion to express our views
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concerning the very important issue to americans and cubans within our nation and exile you're considering today. excuse me, we fully support ousting the travel and to americans to visit cuba. i assume you know that we have bebeen indicating our lives for the past 17 years to promote the well-being of our people through human rights activism. oscar is an independent and journalist and sentenced to 20 years in prison during the 2003 crackdown on 75 peace linda fungibles. 53 of them are still in terrible prison conditions and in cuba there are over 2,000 political prisoners altogether. yet they do not feel hate for want revenge. oscar was granted conditional release due to his very poor
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[inaudible] pecan returned to jail at any moment since the terms he cannot talk openly it continues to do so. i am also an independent journalist, and when he was in prison i was one of the founders of the ladies in white for the release of the 75. until last year when i decided to focus on writing and assist in the prisoners' families -- prisoners and their families. to the developments in the country and its people, to exchange ideas and experiences, to disseminate space traditions it is essential to be there. citizens of almost all countries find troubling a commonplace, except for americans and cubans, although we are only separated by the short distance of the florida straits. the comprehensive force by generations with intertwined our history through commerce,
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science, culture, read forbes, dreams and families have suffered a great deal during the last five decades of estrangement. it is very difficult to understand during the last eight years united states has become cuba's principal food supply year and fifth largest trading partner, but americans cannot walk our streets or shop with our people. only recently we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall. it should be recalled that the iron curtain started to open up by millions of westerners visiting the country's. we are grateful to the politicians who carried out the policy that helped create the conditions for this peaceful outcome. americans played a significant role. today you have a similar opportunity regarding cuba.
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we are aware of the concern of many distinguished congress women and men of the financial the impact of american tourism on the cuban economy, fearing that the civility of giving birth to the totalitarian regime we believe that many thousands of americans visiting cuba would benefit our society and enhance our people. firstly through the free flow of ideas and further asking the government to open up and provide goods and services such as renting rooms because the capacities in the hotels would be surpassed. it would improve the impoverished living standards far more critical today than in the 1990's when some were allowed. everyone will know that the cuban state would not claim credit over those improvements but that this comes from americans. cuban authorities have closed all private initiatives to type
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of the people economically. as a means to have them politically dependent. of course american visitors who would spend money collected by the cuban government, but it is so inefficient it would only be able to keep small amounts. very little to cover its great needs. it is incapable of producing the food sold international -- to our nationals and has to buy them -- excuse me and has to buy them more than 80 per cent abroad. we're mostly in the united states. rick now it is important to find so many americans products and our limited supply store. no other country can compete in terms of quality and proximity. both of which stimulate trade in many ways. then the return of the american -- imagined and the return of
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the money americans spend through purchases from american farmers and other businessmen in order to supply hotels, restaurants and stores. in the short run, many other possibilities will flourish. human authorities blame the embargo for economic problems existing in the country and receive international, public opinion by expressing its lifting. in fact they used the embargo to justify all of their own wrongdoings' economic inefficiency risk-management and repression. they feared losing that just as the panic of the idea having no excuse to prevent americans from coming in. in spite of the propaganda and the manipulation of what goes on beyond our tight boundaries most cubans find ways to know, are eager to listen, have a faith and fulfill promises, are disgusted by the daily and do
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not see a decent future. after 15 years of being locked away from the world, cuban society is on the cusp of changes. it is not a matter of generational, but exception of a system that has fallen into a deep economic, political and social crisis with no solution other than the changes. these might come from the power structure aware of their ability or from the people out of desperation and their civil commitment. they could be in turmoil with great repression. we strive for an understanding among all cubans for advancing democracy in a civilized and peaceful manner. the future of cuba depends what we cubans do today. yet, we are past tension in the united states will favor our goals. in a country where it is impossible for most citizens to
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have internet at home we can not dream of communicating with americans and such -- in a way that is so common nowadays in most parts of the world, nor could anyone be able to experience reality here if he does not set foot on our land. this year we enjoy an art exhibition from york. we could not have the pleasure of the new york orchestra performance. many scholars signed [inaudible] were not able to interact. americans and cubans have to stand up to the 21st century and restart our walk together respecting the rights of our people, facilitating the path toward democracy, not waiting for the cuban authorities jester but being proactive. we hope all americans can visit
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cuba. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much for your testimony and for your courage. and now mr. sosa. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and ranking member for the opportunity to speak today. i am a cuban-americans on, brother, nephews and cousins of cubin heroes who fought in the bay of pigs and served time in castro's jails. as a hispanic and a republican, i am a member of to minorities in my home state of massachusetts, and one of the 13% who voted for george w. bush and 2004. however, i am a part of a new and growing cuban majority. 67% that seek to end the isolation of cubans and americans from each other, and that's why i'm here today. the ban on american travel to
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cuba is an affront to those who believe the right to travel is a fundamental right of all american citizens. we who believe in limited government object to the notion of requiring the government license to travel to cuba, the only country for which such license is needed. the travel ban is a violation of our inherent right to privacy, of our right to free speech, our right to freely associate with whom we wish and our right to pursue happiness. in a globalized world, travel act as a powerful transmitter of new ideas that enrich both the traveler and the country visited. cuba today is an island isolated not only from its largest neighbor but also from the free flow of ideas and people. yet the rise of independent bloggers on the violent remind us that even the most repressive of governments cannot stop new technologies from spreading timeless ideas of freedom and
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democracy. it's time for americans to start developing relationships with cubans from all walks of life. this is especially true as cuba years its rendezvous with leadership change, sharing our hopes and dreams with those who live in the quiet despair of communist cuba can only help reawaken the first for freedom that reside in every repressed cubin heart. to those who point i say this is a completely false analogy. the population of canada is almost one-tenth the size of the united states. moreover, canadian hispanic and african canadians accounts for a combined 4% of that country's population versus a combined 28% for those same ethnic groups in the u.s.. i would add a percentage of hispanics and people of african
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descent from european countries is even smaller so not only of the numbers of american tourists traveling to cuba will be much greater than anything we have seen from canada but those american tourists are much more likely to share demographic and cultural ties with the cuban people. by the way, according to the u.s. census bureau, 34.5 million americans speak spanish as their first language. that is more than the entire population of canada. the recent incident involving cuban security forces beating and detaining three well-known dissident loggers is a useful reminder of the totalitarian nature of the cuban government. the assault and arrest occurred when the u.s. asked to vote for progress on human rights as part of a potential roadmap to normalizing relationships. . road map to normalizing relationships. this is no coincidence.
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this is no coincidence. history is littered with instances of cuba taking deliberate steps to sabotage american efforts toward rapprochement. it is clear that cuba, like iran, users hostility from the united states as a way to legitimize its totalitarian government and explain a way decades of failed economic policy. president obama, secretary clinton, and the u.s. congress should not take the bait being should not take the bait being offered by the cuban governm waters. it is important that the united states pursue policies that increase people to people contact between the two countries, regardless of what ever steps the cuban government might take in response. conditioning improvements and effectiveness of u.s. policy to whatever actions cuba pursues effectively puts control of our foreign policy in the hands of the cuban regime.
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lifting the ban on american travel to cuba and allowing more cubans to enter the u.s. on travel visas will do more to further the cause of freedom than the tit-for-tat of diplomatic gamesmanship. the real losers in that game are always the same, the long-suffering people of cuba. as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall, it's important to remember that none of the eastern european countries that threw off the yoke of communism were isolated from their western neighbors, not one. moreover, it was exposure to the western travelers, media and a general familiarity with the west, with all the westworks that inspired millions in eastern europe to seek a future free from communism. cuba is no different. it's time to put the cuban government on the defensive by removing all united states government obstacles to the isolation of cubans from americans. if cuba's government fails to
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respond with greater openness the blame will fall squarely where it belongs, on the shoulders of the cuban government. america should never again allow the cuban government to use american policy as a scapegoat for that regime's failures. so, i finished by pleading with the members of this distinguished committee and house of representatives to pass the freedom to travel to cuba act. i also asked senator kerry as the chairman of the foreign affairs to co-sponsor and mark up the senate version of the freedom to travel to cuba act. thank you, and may god bless america. [applause] >> thank you. again, please. ms. antunez is next. she will speak in spanish and then her comments will be translated so this will take a little longer than the normal presentation.
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knees antunez. >> [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish] >> translator: good morning. my name is antunez. i come as the sister and niece of political prisoners. i left cuba a short time ago as an activist in my country and worked as best i could to organize the family members of political prisoners to advocate
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for their release. my uncle who has serious health problems after spending several years in prison and was removed from prison to spain last year. my brother jorge luis garcia is prize remains in cuba's struggling for freedom as part of the resistance for the rights of the cuban people for the space change that the majority of the people want. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: the castro's war against the debate goes to peacefully want change while criticism on the global stage and international condemnation of its repressive conduct. >> [speaking in spanish]
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>> translator: de castro regime feels emboldened by the half dozen latin american heads of state to travel to havana to raise the longest standing bloodiest dictator by spain's policy toward the island of the objective of which is to bolster and uphold the dictatorship and by the increasing influence of hugo chavez in the region. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: on the other hand, the regime fears the ever more manifest defiance and
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noncooperation of the cuban people, therefore proceeding the weakness in the world space community it has made its dirty war ever more public an effort to steal the unrest in the hearts of the cuban people, the physical attack on the blogger and her companions just a few days ago is an example of this. >> [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish] >> translator: my own brother jorge released from prison april, 2007 has decided to remain in the country in order to continues of the struggle for space change. he's been the target of constant arrest, beatings and harassment by castro's reprisal apparatus.
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jorge luis has seen how the regime becomes bolder and bolder in its repression as it receives unilateral concessions from the world's democracies. >> [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish] >> translator: in april of this year in a letter to the cuban-american members of congress he wrote it is extraordinarily remarkable that while the castro regime increases repression, while the district of our compatriots inside and outside of the prisons particular sectors of the united states seek engagement with the oldest and most repressive dictatorship of the continent. >> [speaking in spanish]
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[speaking in spanish] >> translator: [speaking in spanish] >> translator: therefore, i believe this is not the time for the united states government to transform its policy regarding travel to cuba. indeed, those who in good faith belief that by doing this they will help the cuban people are mistaken. i see this as someone who was born and lived all her life in cuba until the short time ago, and i am speaking to you about
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the reality i know well. throughout all of my life i have faced and confronted the prison wardens, the state security agents, the military personnel and agents of repression are the true face of the regime. i know the regime's contempt for the cuban people and how they show no mercy to those of us who are black. the experiences i have lived through do not allow me to fall under the spell of the regime's sophisticated diplomats, agents of influence in key positions or of its professional propagandists. >> [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish]
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>> translator: they're real people of cuba, the cuban people that suffer and deeply desire to live in freedom, will not benefit from any tourist travel. rather, those resources will serve the totalitarian regime to increase its repressive capabilities. some people in genuinely think tourists will have direct contact with the cuban people and this will help cubans to have a clear vision of freedom. in the first place cubans are reprimanded, find and even imprisoned for maintaining contact with tourists. there are places in cuba where kids are subject to restrict entry or time schedules so that they will not be present at the same time as tourists. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: it must be understood that for years european, canadian and latin american tourists have traveled to cuba, without having any
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impact on the cuban reality but rather on the government's coffers. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: it is an error to think american tourism will mean something positive to the cuban people. with the cuban people need once again is the support of the american people in their struggle for freedom. the cuban people and internal resistance more so than the need tourists need people who will stand in solidarity in the u.s., chris and advocate for their liberation. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: we ask recognition for the men and women who run the grave risks for the sake of the rights of an entire people. we ask for a place to be raised
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against the repression, the prisons, and the censorship imposed against our people for 50 years. >> [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish] >> translator: there are those who held that the castro regime represses in order to avoid a representative pro rapport which was meant with the united states. this is the mistake the real nature of that regime. the castro regime represses because its priority is to stay in power. the reason why it has spent 50 years killing imprisoning persecuting and forcibly exiling
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cubans is because it knows very well that the immense majority of the cuban people desire freedom. if the cuban people were not repressed we would already be free. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: the regime once the discussion on cuba in a place as important as this to revolve around the questions of tourists or no tourists, commercial relations or no co >> [speaking spanish] >> i asked you to echo the opinion of my brother and many thousands of cubans on the island. on which side is the u.s. congress wished to be?
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>> [speaking spanish] to >> on the side of those who want to silence the free thought of the cuban people? >> on the side of those who engaged in torture in cuban prisons? or on the side of those who engage in civic non-violent struggle for cuba's freedom? on the side of the unarmed and repressed or on the side of those who flaunt their power self serve in and of scrupulously for over 50 years? on the side of a totalitarian regime nearing its end, or the side of the young and vigorous resistance that sooner rather than later shall take the reins of its country? thank you.
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[applause] >> thank you. let me explain our situation. there is a vote and we will have to recess for about 20 or 25 minutes. we will come back to hear mr. peters and then we will have questions. to hear mr. peters, and then we will have questions ms. leiva, if you can stay to be available for questions we would be very grateful. if you are not -- if that is not possible -- >> mr. chairman, if i could ask a question about the seating. we had an incident, everything was worked out now how folks are seated, they probably like where they are seated. how can we make sure that they come back to those seats or will it be new seating? i'm trying to avoid an incident. we've got lots of other people that would like to sit but some folks are happy with the way it
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is so let's have a policy that will apply fairly to everyone. ayaan in line with what ever you choose to do. >> everyone who is seat it should probably hold on to their seat. that is the safest way and then we will bring the caterers and -- no. [laughter] look, it will be a little of a late lunch, but no one -- we don't want to get into a thing where coming in, somebody is standing up a second and taking someone's seat. that wouldn't be fair. so folks who are here, we give you a short term property right to your chair. thank you. [laughter] [inaudible conversations]wwñvç1
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>> we left off with mr. peters. >> thank you. i'm pleased to be here with you and be with this distinguished group of witnesses on this panel. i want to begin by saying i appreciate your opening statement. it has been well demonstrated over 50 years, the point that you make that conditionality, which is a perfectly good concept used in foreign affairs, in this case has yielded no leverage for us. the idea of conditionality in this case is we have used it for so many years and has resulted in a policy or the control, the levers of our policy in a van that is not in our own hands, and that is wrong. it prevents us from doing a lot of good things. you have been debating this issue for a long time, the issue of travel restrictions to cuba.
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but now you are debating in a different context. that is a result of the measures president obama took in september of this year. he changed the regulations, and i think it was a good thing to do. cuban-americans can now travel freely to cuba and without restriction can go as long as they want, as often as they want, and they can send as much money as they want to their relatives, no restriction whatsoever. this changes at the issue before you, the issue before you now is whether to maintain this policy where you have one -- a division of americans along ethnic lines and one group has no restrictions -- 50 flights a week to sell the airports in miami, some are going from new jersey and elsewhere.
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it is argued that cuba is a special case somehow and that if we have contacts in cuba, we will not get any influence in cuba or there is no in direction in cuba between foreigners and cuban citizens, that other countries travelers have had no impact in cuba, that when travelers go there, no funds get to the cuban people or as one of the gentlemen on the republican side has said, no foreign travelers ever do anything to help cuban society. every part of that argument is argument completelymyth. we go to cuba, you see that's the case. we have a statement by the ambassador in his written testimony that most likely -- cuba would not be interested in
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the foreigners view of politics but they will be asked if they cannot get a person out of the island. i think that is another myth and a remarkable statement, not to mention contemptuous. let me be clear, i do not believe a policy of unrestricted travel by americans is going to transform cuba. you go to the kennedy administration, the bush administration had just ended, lots of miscalculations in our policy. i am not going to represent you that american travelers will magically change the political order in cuba. that's not any case, any more than anyone could promise sanctions will do it. what we can realistically expect is if we allow americans to travel without restriction, we will increase our influence in that country, where influence is quite low now, at a pivotal time in cuba's history. by restricting travel will create an explosion of
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communication between our country and theirs. the congresswoman rightly point out the licensing categories, but a lot of americans and a lot of institutions in our civil society are deterred by those categories. if you are a college administrator or if you work at a church or lead a congregation at a synagogue, or you ever -- or you are university president, you can go to any country. if you to go to cuba, you have to get a license from the federal government. if you want to bring money, not yet to get a second [unintelligible] the explosion if we got rid of those incentives would be huge. there is a particular thing about americans. in cuba, in that historical context, the cuban government does not call canada the empire.
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they do not claim luxembourg as a policy of a genocidal blockade against them. the cuban government has used this idea that the united states is against them and our government is trying to bring them down for years. they have used to justify internal policies, including repression. if we eliminate travel restrictions and americans are circulating freely there, it makes it a lot harder for the cuban government -- this has been pointed out, that it makes it a lot harder for the cuban government to make us this extra out and they, an external threat -- this an external enemy, and a scapegoat for their policies. finally, on the issue of money, obviously cuba is not a free market economy. it's an economy dominated by the state, but there are entrepreneurs there. some operate legally, some not so legally.
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there are about 5000 homes in cuba where people have licenses to rent homes -- rooms in their homes. there are more bad in those homes that are in the state hotels. these people make a livelihood and sometimes employ people legally, sometimes not quite so legally. they employ people and feed their families well. they pay taxes, we pay taxes also, unfortunately. other entrepreneurs will have a better living and that incipient private sector in cuba will expand. that's very much in our interest to see.
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i think these are reasons why some people in cuba who, in my experience, uniformly well, americans why some people in cuba think we should change the policy as you suggested by allowing unrestricted travel. the catholic church has called for it for many years. dissidents like the leading human rights monitor in the country, and a lay catholic activist have all called for an end to travel restrictions and every time i have seen -- everybody is mentioning the blogger who is detained -- who was detained recently. every time she has address the issue, she says we should allow unrestricted travel and is against the embargo itself. what it boils down to is a question of confidence. what we are confident the regime
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of sanctions will have an impact or whether something else might work and whether we might have greater confidence in the ability of americans to carry the american idea to cuba and to represent our system of government, exchange information, bring resources to cubans, helped cuban civil society grow, secretary george shultz wrote to you and said he thinks are sanctions in general are ridiculous. he thinks there is a transition of some kind going on and is much more likely we would get a constructive outcome if there is a lot of interaction between cubans and americans. i agree with him and i have much more confidence in unrestricted travel and interaction between our society and keep in society and that will serve our national interest. thank you. thank you very much, mr. peters.
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-- >> thank you, mr. peters. now we will start the questioning and i will yield myself five minutes. this morning, number of people have mentioned the cuban blotter who was beaten up -- the cuban blocker who was beaten up by state security agents in havana while on her way to an anti-violent demonstration. for those of you who do not know her, she has a track record of telling the unvarnished truth. as a university student, she titled her dissertation "dictatorships in latin american literature." since it was taken as a veiled criticism of the castro regime, she was denied an academic career. now she earns a living in the tourist industry and logs for free. "time" magazine named her one of the most influential people in the world. the spaniards have awarded her
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their equivalent of a pulitzer prize and she was awarded the cabot prizes, the oldest ward in international journalism from columbia university school of journalism. she has never been allowed to leave cuba to collect her awards. she wrote an essay for this year -- it's part of the record. i would like to read a few excerpts. over the course of several decades, cuban exiles and tourists have brought part of the information that serve to undermine the myth of the supposed of paradise in which we live. there is nothing more corrosive for a state that holds itself out as a father and figure of asian then the testimony of those do in other latitudes have greater space to realize their dreams and greater tolerance for their opinions. faced with no evolution of our current political and social situation and -- an opening of
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travel for americans could bring more results in the democratization of cuba than the indecisive performance of raul castro. i am accepting from an entire state and -- eliminating these obsolete travel restrictions would mean the end of the main elements with which official propaganda has repeatedly say nice american and frustrations and -- state denies the american administrations and patronize that we cubans need to leave our country would be even more ridiculous. of the phrase spoken by pope john paul the second in the plaza of the revolution, -- let cuba open itself to the world and let the world open itself to cuba. only the first part would remain to be accomplished. this is what she says.
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>> we've heard the notion that more americans coming to visit cuba, their only interaction will be with a few hotel workers, though they are people also. essentially, the castro regime will get all the financial benefits and our notion of what might happen in terms of greater interaction between americans and cubans, greater information for cubans about america, our intentions, our purposes, our lives, none of that would happen. you are there. why do you think differently?
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>> the cuban government has always tried to prevent people from getting together and for people coming from abroad. each time it is more difficult for them because people want to know and are friendly and want to talk with visitors. besides that, keeping people are losing their fear. each day, more and more, as people speak out what they feel , their problems, besides that, it's a very important that
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repression is not enough for people who have lost confidence in the government and have been deceived by the promises and want something different, want to have a better future, want to be able to speak, want to travel, want to listen. the situation in cuba has changed a lot. i will not say -- >> i hate to interrupt. i should have indicated each member, including me is limited to 5 minutes. i took for the mets myself. i did not leave you enough time, and i apologize, but my time has expired and i'm sure we will be coming back to you. the ranking member is recognized. >> thank you very much. i could direct my question -- earlier this year at a hearing of the subcommittee on national
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security and foreign affairs of the committee on oversight and government reform, you testified -- "mr. castro engaged me for a couple of hours -- i always find it intriguing that people find it interesting the number of hours castro spent with them. i guess it gives you some kind of badge of honor. you say he engaged for a couple of hours and once spies back from florida. i said mr. castro, you are very proud of these men and they are cuban patriots. you will get them back eventually when we have normalized relations. i find it regrettable that you would refer to these cuban spies who were convicted in our
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u.s. criminal justice system and whose cases were heard again and his convictions were once again reaffirmed as patriots. you focus on returning these spies to the cuban regime, yet you do not mention cop killers and other fugitives at u.s. law and justice who have given refuge by the cuban regime. also in your testimony from april of this year, you noted " there is no question there are lots of drugs floating around cuba. particularly washing up on shore." -- it was clear to me they were not on a government basis, but part of an international conspiracy to threaten the regime and threaten their sense of communist morality." communist morality? given the brutal repressive
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apparatus of the regime that ruled cuba, the totalitarian dictatorship, exerting absolute control over the island and its people, you think fidel. raul, and the regime elite are not aware of the activity or sponsor such activities? in your testimony before the government reform subcommittee, you said "i would bring some of them coming to the officials, in our schooling system. i would get to of them to go to leavenworth. eventually they would get jealous and some of the commerce would get the slot. dialogue and engagement on areas of mutual interest will work. in light of the significant threat posed to our nation and interest by cuban espionage and
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might of the recent massacre of forehead where all these signals and signs were completely overlooked, -- massacre at fort hood where all the signals and sides were completely overlooked, how could you open the doors to leavenworth and our training programs to keep an intelligent agent -- cuban intelligence agencies who are declared enemies of the united states, i find that statement? >> let me correct you. my title is general. one connection three times, i'm offended by your delivery marginalize asian of my viewpoint. let me go on to say -- or wounded in action 3 times. >> i was quoting you. >> i'm offended by my you -- i am offended by your language. >> let me go on to continue to respond. >> your quotes offend you. are you -- >> are you going to let me answer? >> i can do with my five minutes
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but ever. are you offended by your quotes, i was quoting you. >> if you are asking me whether i think you international security threat to the united states, my answer is, if you ask for the top 20 national security threats, they would not be among them. my actual view point, however is that u.s. natural -- u.s. national interest would be better served by lifting the travel ban, by engaging in diplomatic contact with them, and indeed by -- >> i was asking you if you did not feel our security would be in any risks by your saying you would invite these officials to come into our facilities. >> this is silly. your whole argument, to be honest, does not apply to the realities. what i support is people to people engagement, diplomatic
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engagement, economic engagement, that is what i endorsed. >> the time of the gentle lady has expired. the gentleman from massachusetts is recognized. >> general, i want to go on the record and say i consider you a great american patriot. [applause] but let's talk about our enactment -- let's talk about our national security. are you familiar with admiral jim lloyd? >> yes. >> are you familiar with general jim thomas hill? >> the former commander of u.s. southern command. >> that includes the island, the jurisdiction would include the caribbean region? are you familiar with general jack [unintelligible] ? four-star marine, very patriotic, highly decorated.
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>> are you familiar with lt. robert guard? >> yes. >> lieutenant-general john costello. >> i know him by reputation 3 >> brigadier-general john adams? >> i only know him by reputation. >> general charles will come. >> very fine, four-star marine, retired. >> this was not a letter -- i understand this is in the record. i want to read excerpts from this letter because it goes to the issue of national security. american national security. this is the letter these men signed. these american patriots that have fought for this country. "u.s. policy towards cuba has
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not only failed in its principal objective of ending cuba's, this system, but has harmed our interest across the board. most important, it works against our national security interests. in our judgment, the committee would advance the best interest of the united states by acting favorably on hr 874, the freedom to travel lacked." do you conclude -- you confer with the conclusion these german submitted for the record? >> i do. i think it's a very sensible view point. >> to mr. sosa -- i have never heard the argument before until the testimony relative to lifting the travel ban would be of no avail because we do not
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speak spanish. who is going to talk to us? who are we going to talk to you? you made an observation, i think you know it, how many hispanics? >> according to the u.s. census bureau, in a 2004 report, 34 -- 34.5 million speak spanish as a first language. >> as a first language? some of us to speak spanish and then. 34 million of us speak spanish as a first language. i wonder how many of those 34 million are americans of cuban descent? >> i think a cuban-born citizens in this country are 1.5 million. i may be wrong. >> so there are 33 other americans out there that speak spanish as their first language.
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i would suggest that argument put forth by mr. cason does not seem to hold water. but he did reference a case decided in 1984 in the midst of the cold war where he said the authority of the president, if he has a policy, -- a policy issue, he suggested it was unfettered and untrammeled -- let me read from a language of that case. in the opinion of the state permit, cuba with a political, economic and military backing of the soviet union has provided widespread support for armed violence and terrorism in the western hemisphere. cuba also retains close to 40,000 troops in various countries, africa, and the least, in support of objectives hostile to united states foreign policy interests. therefore we think there is an
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adequate basis under the due process clause of the fifth amendment to sustain the president's decision to restrict travel. general, are we faced with the same conditions today? >> no. >> are there still 40,000 cuban troops all the world? >> know. my take on the island right now it is one of the poorest places on the face of the earth. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the jomon from minnesota. >> -- the gentleman from minnesota. >> i want to dispel something that has been brought up several times here. it has been said people want to go to cuba -- i believe it was mentioned tourists go there for rum, sex, what ever, this list of pejorative. i have heard from others as well that it seems to indicate
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the only reason people go to cuba is to lay on the beach and themojitos. i believe it's deeply offensive to a lot of americans to go for a number of reasons, not just to sit on the beach. the notion that we don't have a travel ban, we only have a currency band, that's grasping at straws. tell that to the woman from indiana who went to cuba to distribute bibles with her church group. she was not aware of the restrictions. she went through canada because that's where they were going through. she went there to distribute bibles and got find when she got back. i would like for her to say there is no ban on travel to cuba. this notion that everybody goes for prurient reasons is offensive. sure, every place in the world, you have bad actors, but to lump everyone who goes to cuba and
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you travel to cuba into one group who are simply seeking sex tourism or something is deeply offensive. i have to say that from the outset. in your testimony, you mentioned that tourism and trade have not brought down a totalitarian regime anywhere in history. you know that there is no evidence to suggest increasing tourism to cuba will help promote democracy. do you have any evidence to present that indicates isolating a regime anywhere in the world like this has fostered democracy? >> i would like to mention what -- i would like to mention the question of tourism and of freedom in czechoslovakia and poland. they said had no relevance whatsoever. the point i'm making is tourist travel, i'm not talking about
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the other 18 categories, the notion that allowing tourists to go to the areas where basically the hotels are, areas you are aware of that i have visited, those people are going there somehow to promote democracy by interacting with the cuban people, it cannot happen. >> i asked you for evidence. you say it had no effect, i'm asking you, are there instances where isolating the regime has had the opposite effect that you can point to? i would say the to cannot. mr. sosa will make a compelling argument that in gauging the cubans in allowing travel and other means will foster democracy and you argue it doesn't. i would suggest you have no more evidence on your side then he has on his. >> my evidence is history. there have been millions of millions people from all over the world, democrats who have
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gone for over 50 years to keep up -- >> you are making the reverse argument. tell me a time when we have had a travel ban that has fostered democracy in another country and answer that question. have we and cannily point to an example of that? >> i don't think we have a travel ban on cuba. for a long time, large numbers of people have been able to go. hundreds of thousands of cuban- americans can go. my point is they have not brought any change, political change of this or people are arguing should result from that. >> reclaiming my time -- it has been mentioned as well that this legislation or what we're trying to do here is to encourage tourism or promote tourism or promote or encourage travel. mr. peters, you have studied the legislation. does this legislation contain a grant program for travel agents to promote travel to cuba or does this legislation simply say you are allowed, we will
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give you the freedom that we give you in every other area? >> it is the latter. the legislation and the prohibition, it does not push anybody to go anywhere and it does not have any u.s. government funds to promote tourism or give grants to anybody with regard to travel. >> nobody under this legislation is compelled to do anything? it's simply granting them the freedom should they wish to travel? >> that is correct. >> thank you i yield back. -- thank you. i yield back. >> visit -- the gentleman from new jersey is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. i will speak a little bit to the 34 million people who speak spanish. i was a spanish teacher for 10 years. my brother is obviously cuban. you ask them if they speak spanish, they will say yes. you talk to them and it's an
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embarrassment. there are brothers. i taught in school was 93% hispanic. you will ask the students if they spoke spanish. they will tell you 90% will say yes. i'm not agreeing with any of you, but this notion that 34 million people speak spanish, yes, they say it is their first language because they go home and speak spanish. my question comes to this -- i am hard-pressed to think that if we lift the travel ban, that is going to help the cuban people when the government controls every single aspect from who gets to rent the room, from who gets to go where, from the people who come to the island because i assume they're going to curtail if there is a whole mess of people going to the island. for me to accept the fact that
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this is somehow helping in any way, i only see them helping the government. if anybody wants to take a shot at that, i'm sure that you all do. >> a couple of things -- the 34.5 million comes from the u.s. census bureau. frankly, -- >> reclaiming my time. the census bureau says check if you speak spanish. yes, brother if he speaks spanish, he will say yes. u.s. my younger brother and it's an embarrassment. he will say yes. >> i don't know your family, -- [crosstalk] >> anybody who has traveled around the united states and into a major american city knows there is a tremendous amount of people who speak spanish. >> i don't disagree with that.
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tajthe other point was -- >> how is it going to trickle down to the cuban people? >> it is not true that every person that travels from the united states to cuba is somehow fall of around with some minor. i have been to cuba several times. i have wandered all over the island and i'm sure there is some they looking one way or the other at what i was doing, but it did not stop me from talking to people. i talked to people from all walks of life in cuba. they can't, as much as they want to control, you cannot control hundreds of thousands of americans arriving tomorrow in cuba. it's not possible. >> let me tell you this story. i have a friend from columbia who went to cuba because he figured sooner or later they will do something. he went to cuba and when he got to cuba, he was called in to
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question what he was doing there and he was not even cuban. for you to say you were not followed, every single thing i get, every conversation i get, people are followed, people are track, i still have cousins in cuba. this is the information i get. i'm hard pressed -- if tomorrow the people of cuba were going to benefit, i might think twice about my position. i just don't think it's going to trickle down to the cuban people and that is my argument against this. >> it has not trickled down. i would encourage you to go on the internet and look at the private homes people rent. talk to the people who have rented them to read these are little businesses. >> who gives them the permission to rent homes? >> they are licensed by the government.
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>> the government gives them permission. >> to have to get a license to do it. and they taxes. i'm not in favor of licenses or taxes, but it's not unique in cuba that people had to get licenses or pay taxes. those people make good money. they employ people, they employ -- >> do you think any of the dissidents will get a license to read to somebody? >> do you think a this event will get a license to rent a room? >> you are asking if this trickles down to people and it absolutely does, all over the island. there are artists who sell to foreigners. i know one who is an evangelical christian who employs five people. he makes so much money doing it. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from florida is recognized for five minutes.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. in listening to the discussion today from both sides, i think i have found a silver lining in today's hearing. that is that this committee should move swiftly to apply the same restrictions that we have on cuba to run, sudan, and syria, all of which are on a state sponsor of terrorism list. at some point, we will be willing to offer a resolution on this. >> with the gentleman yield? >> yes. >> you know would be -- you would be trying to repeal my provision, so i take it personally. >> duly noted. >> mr. sosa, if i may, in listening to your testimony, i find it somewhat shameful you would interject in today's debate racial and ethnic politics by are giving -- by arguing that if one is from a
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particular race or ethnicity can one relate to the cuban people or discussed democracy, freedom, and human-rights. my question is what about the thousands of tourists from spain and mexico? have these spanish-speaking tourists failed? another question -- my good friend, the ranking member, sheet a better ambassador of freedom and i am? -- is she a better ambassador of freedom than i am? i question why he would bring up race and ethnicity in this. >> first of all, spain was a formal -- was a former colonial master of cuba. that has some historical effect on the people of cuba. there is no question that the people of cuba more closely resemble the people of the united states, the population in
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general, then they do the people of canada. that's a fact. i'm not interjecting anything. that's a fact of life. that does mean, in my opinion, that there is a much closer tie between the people cuba and the people of canada, and certainly luxembourg, france, germany, or any of these other countries. >> listening to your testimony, the other thing i heard which i thought was an outrage is some doubt it was the american people's fault for the brutal regime of the castro brothers. that somehow the restrictions we have on cuba somehow it is our fault that the castro brothers continue to be a brutal regime. maybe you and i can sit down and talk some other time and i understand. >> i never said that. >> what i heard you say is if we drop the restrictions, then no
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longer could the castro brothers used -- use u.s. policy. that somehow u.s. policy is to blame here. i think you are misguided on that. my question is to the ambassador. going back to this idea of people traveling to cuba with this money -- with this money trickle down to cubans? i have listened to your testimony. would you talk a little bit about that? in my opinion, it's not going to help one bit. >> i think very little trickles down. a lot of them are owned by people behind the scenes and sure there are some private rooms, but the vast majority of tourists, of the 50 million
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tourists, they don't go there, they go to areas where there are no cubans, note tipping, no chance to buy our work and that kind of stuff. some trickles down, but the idea this will bring prosperity to the average cuban is bunk. there is no evidence again that tourism by all these people from the other parts of the world that do speak spanish and do engage if they find a cuban to engage with has made any impact on the system. that's what i have been arguing. >> so all this money would just stay in the hands of the castro brothers. >> they are in the bars, cigar shops, it all belongs to the cuban state. very little is independent. it's a smaller group every month that tries to do something every month, but there are rounded up and put into jail for dangerousness. the something trickle-down? yes, but it's not going to bring
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democracy to cuba. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentle lady from california is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. sitting here, it sounds like those who oppose travel to cuba are singing an old song. i feel like i'm listening to an old record. something we have all heard before and it's fairly comfortable because we can sing along, except it does not that the 21st century. .
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among younger cuban americans and those who have arrived here more recently. >> response? >> i am in and out of miami all of the times. i would not say i am an expert. my guess is that our current policy towards cuba is not
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supported by the u.s. population. it has caused us to become isolated in the international community. it is painful to the cuban people, and there is the new, younger generation that does not support it. i think those who espouse continuing the ban on travel are an isolated group. we need to move on, in gauge the cuban people, open diplomatic representation -- engage the cuban people. >> we're going to move on. we have our wonderful witness that we are looking at on video. miss? what is it? anyway, thank you.
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let's talk about agriculture. let's talk about farmers. let's talk about what kind of food the cubans would purchase if we would open up our trade relations, the u.s.-cuban trade relations. what? >> you can imagine, the cuban government enforces about 80% of the food we consume in cuba and mostly from the united states. right now, the commerce -- by 36% altogether. why? because they do not have enough money to buy. they would be able to buy more food and more goods that they do not have here. it is incredible how people are lacking everything they need each day.
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it is a difficult situation, but if people could work and sell privately, and if many tourists would come, many people from everywhere, the government would not be able to have all of the capacities, the hotels, restaurants, and everywhere, and this would move the economy. this is not because the cuban economy -- government is so wonderful. it is because america has changed its policies and americans are coming. to bring down the government anyplace -- they can let people know what their experience is. people feel freer.
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if there is anything going on, life would change for the people in cuba. i think we are talking about, or some people are talking, with all of my respect, about a society that is not the one that we live in. they would like freedom immediately, human rights, and no political prisoners or dissidents. we would govern our country with democracy. >> thank you. thank you so much for your patience. >> miss leiva, unfortunately, the five minutes is over, and we have to go to the gentleman from california for five minutes. >> thank you. i have a question for the ambassador, and it goes to the testimony you gave. you mentioned the training that cuban hotel employees receive.
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can you expand on that? >> yes, the people who get to work at the hotels are the elite. these jobs are very important jobs in a society where very few people have a chance to have a steady job. the people that are at those hotels are trained to answer the questions that terrorists will ask of them. they are trained to give the regime answers. they are not going to risk their livelihood by answering questions honestly, so tourists are taken to a certain villages, and, again, there are very few of those tourists over the last 15 years in cuba that have been in the urban areas in these little family-run places. they are staying at hotels where
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regular people cannot come in, and the whole in varna is controlled. they are trained people, many of them members of the communist party -- and the whole environment is controlled. >> we took testimony from a mr. kim, a defector from north korea, who explained how the system works in north korea and how they extract wealth from, you know, this kind of activity. it is difficult to find one-for- one examples in foreign policy, but the idea of opening up cuba for u.s. terrorism really reminds me of those who advocated for something in north korea, a mountain resort. this is that ideas like
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capitalism, i guess, will be slowly introduced into north koreans and the wages will trickle-down, but here is what happened. -- will trickle down. they are the sons and daughters of the least -- elite who are set to work there, and they do not talk about any of these ideas anyway, so they are kept at arm's length, so the reality is you do not reach the population. what you do is pay money to bolster the intelligence apparatus or the state, or in the case of north korea, the weapons program, and i think there is an awful lot of wishful thinking. i think that cameras jong-il, like castro, would not do anything to threaten his grip --
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i think that kim chong il -- kim chong il -- kim jong-il, like castro, would not do anything to threaten his grip. this is exactly for the same types of purposes that you called attention to. you also mentioned that the regime thinks it can control terrorism. explain that to us. >> the regime has controlled -- you also mentioned that the regime thinks it can control tourism. explain that to us. >> the regime has controlled tourism. >> the bottom line for the regime, the castro regime has proved adept at running off reform for a long time.
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do you think that regime would make any reforms that would threaten its grip on power? >> that regime is not going to do anything that will undermine their political control, especially those who know they do not have the support of the young people who do not believe the revolution is going to provide for their future. they just do not believe in the system. this is about a large number of americans wandering around to undermine the system. that is not going to happen. the future of the regime is at stake. >> did the years of terrorism put a dent in the control of the regime, in your opinion -- did the years of terrorism -- tourism put a dent in the control of the regime, in your opinion? >> no. >> next speaker. >> thank you for being here.
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let me just first say to my colleague, i just want to mention one point to you, as it relates to race. race is a factor in so many issues, both here and in cuba. let me just review what one woman said. she said there is a contempt for the cuban people and how they show no mercy to those of us who are black, so she also raised the issue of race, which is a good thing to do. what i want to say, ma'am, is that i share many of your concerns about the lives of the afro-cubans. myself, i remember the days of the united states government's jim crow laws, where african- americans could not vote. my father was a lieutenant colonel in the united states army, and i remember very vividly being turned away at
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restaurants and movie theaters. he had his u.s. army uniform on, and he was told we were not allowed because we were black. i also remember when i started school, i could not go to public school because i was black. i also remember, and this is in my lifetime, when black people were lynched. they were hung. i remember these things very well. this was not very long ago. we are dealing with discrimination in my own country and equality. i have experienced a lot. i understand what you are trying to say, but, yet, i do not remember many countries at all refusing their citizens the
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right to travel to the united states or to engage in it and anbar go against my country because of the -- invasion -- the right to travel to the united states or to engage in an embargo against my country because of human rights violations. for freedom and equality. the embargo and the travel ban has kept us from helping you. why would not ending the travel ban be in the best interests of afro-cubans? >> [speaking spanish]
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>> i am very happy that this topic has, and that you have addressed it because my own people in my own family -- i am very happy that this topic has come up. >> [speaking spanish]
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>> and i am thinking specifically of my brother, who because he is black and opposes the regime in my country, they had even put the dogs on him. he has the scars on his body. >> [speaking spanish] >> and i am also thinking of my sister-in-law, who was beaten and who was treated in an obscene manner because she was trying to help a citizen. >> i am in consent for an additional minute because of the time taken. >> let me just say that you are
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a wonderful translator, but i believe that the first part of her sentence was saying "i do not have to rely on memory or recollections. it is something that i live every day." >> this is something that we continue to live with every day. >> i do not doubt it. >> the point is i do not remember, and i do not see many countries not allowing countries in not allowing their citizens to travel to our country because we still have so many civil rights violations in our country. >> i wanted to just clarify more accurately what she had said. >> [speaking spanish]
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>> the time of the gentle lady has expiry of. i will give the translator time to translate the answer -- that time of the gentle lady has expired. >> i would like to say that i think american tourism would be fatal for us. this is not because i do not want something good for my country, but i do not need to go on the internet to know the effects of oppression that would
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come about as a consequence of this policy. >> the gentle lady has expired. the gentleman from new jersey. >> thank you very much. let me just point out that some visited cuba and met with the castro brothers, and some in their delegation were absolutely effusive in their praise. i know that berta antunez had a letter. he was on a hunger strike on behalf of human rights, and that is my knowledge that you did not visit him. >> do you yield? >> one person tried for years to get into cuba to visit with political prisoners and to visit for people like ntunez. -- antunez. we want to go to the prisons,
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and we have been turned down the we have been in gulags -- we have been turned down. we have been in gulags, including one in russia. we were in geneva, and they got focus and scrutiny brought to the prisoners in the gulags. since then, international committee for the red cross has been denied. there is a travel ban on the icrc going to the prisons. there is a travel ban dealing with the united nations. there was a travel ban on the investigation. have you ever asked castro to permit the icrc to visit prisoners? what have you raised with fidel castro and others in the
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government? have you asked castro to let you visit prisons yourself? i do not have access. those of us who have these questions cannot even get in the door. yesterday, the colonel, the superintendent of the new jersey state police, said that everyone in new jersey once the cop killer returned to prison in new jersey -- wants the cop killer returned to prison in new jersey. she made her way to cuba, where she lives in the lap of luxury. i mentioned in 2001, i got legislation passed in the house that died in the senate, as so many things died over there that pertain to human-rights. -- as so many things die over there. they are being tortured as we meet here today.
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and secondly, allow us to get back the almost 80 individuals who have committed felons who are now living in cuba. so, in general, if you could -- the colonel is the new jersey state police officer who made a strong and compelling case yesterday. have you raised that case? >> well, let me say that i think you should be very proud of your work in this area, and i'd endorse entirely your viewpoints. i think the notion that there is a totalitarian government in cuba, a lack of freedom of unionization, assembly, freedom of speech, that is not arguable. i have personally raised with fidel -- and not two hours -- it was seven hours that i spent with him.
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there was the perception in the global community about repressed totalitarian regimes, and i have also raised the same point with the ambassador. that is probably the easiest thing they could do is drop the oppressive imprisonment of these dissidents, so i share your viewpoint. >> general, will you help me and another get into cuba? >> i have great admiration for frank wolf. he is one of the greatest men -- >> we would like to make the attempt and go to the prisons. >> i am at your service. >> would you? >> i am happy to work with you. in fact, your staff contacted me months ago, and i told them i was happy to work with them. i am happy to work with you. i understand what you're saying about that woman, and, of
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course, she should be returned. >> have you raised that with government officials? >> no, i have not. >> why not? >> i will tell you what i have done. i will tell you that i have raised the issue of civil rights every time i have gone. -- of human rights every time i have gone. >> the time of the gentleman has expired, and the gentleman from american samoa is recognized for five minutes, and that will probably be the last person we will recognize, and let me just interject here, if anyone else is prepared to come back, we will continue the hearing, a city our witnesses do not pass out. yes, so one wants to come back. all right, well, can the witness this day?
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-- witnesses stay? the general -- ms. antunez, can you stay? can you stay another 45 minutes so we can finish the hearing? ok, all right. ok, the gentleman from american samoa. >> i think the witnesses for their most eloquent statements. i think at the height of the cold war, when we talk about the cuban missile crisis, the bay of pigs, this has become not only an emotional issue for our country but at that time, in national security seemed to be the number-one issue in the minds of our officials.
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i would like to ask the general, you mentioned that cuba is no longer really a threat to our national security given the wealth of your experience as someone who has worked on national-security issues. can you elaborate on the a little more? >> i really missed -- >> well, national security issues, we have a lot of them. there is an internally oppressive regime. in the past, they had a policy of confronting u.s. issues -- castro has clearly allied himself with hugo chavez. there are many problems. in venezuela. our national security concerns orient around one dozen threats, some of which are hugely important to us, and they do not include cuba, so my own view is the reason we have to worry
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about cuba is that when castro passes away, which i am confident he will, and we see the unraveling of this oppressive regime, we will see many cubans fleeing the island. i actually look at the national guard, who i will be talking to tomorrow night, and others, who will have a huge challenge in coming years. how do we deal with a humanitarian crisis if we are not engaged with the cubans now? i want to know who the 45-year- old's are who will be running the government. i want to bring these people out of isolation. >> my travel to cuba went through can tune in order to get some sort of special visa to go to havana -- my travel to cuba went through cancun.
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spanish country's leading an effort to drill oil. venezuela pays cuba over $1 billion per year -- spanish countries leading an effort to drill oil. there was a $1 billion line of credit extended last year. funds are being used for other projects. china also extended a $600 million line of credit to cuba in september of this year, including a $260 million for grain purchases. the economic situation, the economic sanctions, in your opinion, -- as it was in the early part of the last 50 years, it was national security. now, as you look at the economic conditions, do you really think
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that this really is how things will change in the future when castro departs from this earth? >> congressman, the point i was making in that passage was that we often think that because we have sanctions against cuba that the cuban economy is on the brink or that we are squeezing them somehow, and that is not the case. the economic situation there is not good, but as all of those facts indicated and others do, they are not isolated. they are engaged with the rest of the world, and whether we like to or not, that economy is not teetering, and more importantly with our sanctions, are sanctions have never had the effect -- our sanctions have never had the effect -- they seem more severe now. they have never put the power of the government on the line, and so, there is no politically
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decisive impact in our sanctions. it does not make the difference between the communist government surviving or the communist government not surviving. >> unfortunately, my time is short. it is just not enough time to ask more questions. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, your time has expired. we will vote and be back in about 15 minutes maximum, i think, and if you can stay, great, any of you. we hope as many of view as can will. we will be back right away, and if no one is year, we would just adjourned, so with that, the committee is recessed -- and if no one is here, we will just adjourne. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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>> ok, we are smaller but more robust. the gentleman from new york is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you for staying. it has been a crazy and busy day, and i know that this issue
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is a very emotional issue, and, unfortunately, when emotions are involved, sometimes logic stops. so i just want to say that there has been a long time that has passed -- a different policy in cuba. when i think about the whole situation, one of the reasons why it when people talk about national security, etc., it was initially the alliance between cuba and russia, and yet, we never put a ban on travel into russia, and we always had a conversation with the russian government -- had conversation with the russian government, now in the g-20 and other places, and it seems that when cuba was
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a threat to the united states, it was only because of russia and the missile crisis and not because of cuba in and of itself, so i do not see where cuba is a threat to the united states of america at all at this particular point. that being said, let me just ask ms. antunez that recently the president of the united states ended all restrictions to cuba by cuban americans, and i was wondering whether you believe such travel should be prohibited or whether the cubans should be free to go to cuba. >> i am sorry. could you repeat the last part of your question? >> whether or not such trouble -- travel by cubans to cuba be allowed?
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cuban-americans. >> [speaking spanish] >> in the first place, any terrorism -- tourism or travel
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that would strengthen the hold on power, anything that does that is not convenient for the cuban people. >> that is not my question. does she think it is ok for cuban-americans to visit cuba? >> [speaking spanish] >> i would like to say that i think at this time, it is correct to maintain the policy that the u.s. government has maintained all of these years of
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allowing the real cuban people who are suffering to win space for themselves through nonviolent activism, and we would lose if there is a flow of people coming into cuba. >> that is not my question. the simple -- the question is a simple question, whether cuban americans should be visiting cuba. that is the essence of my question. it is not a complicated question, at all. that is that. thank you, finally. 13 seconds. then let me end with this. i wish i had time to ask questions. i will say this -- >> she did not understand your question, congressman. sorry. >> i do not have the time.
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in the words of a president i did not agree with much. he said that civilized people everywhere have a stake in keeping communications and -- as broad and free as possible. the way government can best promote contacts between people is by not standing in their way. that president was ronald reagan. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from indiana is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. there is a number of reasons why i am opposed to this move, and rather than ask a bunch of questions, because some of the questions i want it to address it to the general and the ambassador -- to address to the general and the ambassador --
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when a hotel or company down there pays their employees, the money goes through the government, and if they make $400 a month, that is reduced by 26 times because the currency they have down there is worth 1/26th of the dollar, and these people cannot go and swim in the pools and water around these hotels and have the freedoms you would expect them to have because they are at the heel or boot of the regime. now, hugo chavez wants to -- he is one of the compatriots now with the castro brothers, and they want to turn that into a communist region and reverse everything that ronald reagan was able to get accomplished
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when he was president. if you drive a cab, if you work in a gas station or a restaurant, you are pre-vetted, and once again, you get those jobs only after the pre-vetting has taken place, and place, 1/26th of what you earn it -- has taken place, and then you only get 1/26th of what you earn. i talked to a supermarket chain in my district, and they were telling me how they are selling food to cuba on a regular basis, and there is no restriction, and i know that humanitarian aid is not being restricted. one of the things that the kgb taught castro is that the way to keep control of the people is to have somebody who is or what
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ever you want to call it about every few blocks -- is to have somebody who is a spy or wahtever you want to call it about every few blocks. if you want to talk about cuba changing things, as i recall, when i was talking to our ranking republican, during the carter administration, there were no restrictions whatsoever, and the oppression under the castro regime was just as severe as it is today. people were thrown into gulags. i think one man was thrown into jail at that particular time, and i think everybody who thinks we should start working with the castro brothers should read his book. it is called "against all hope," and it is about what happens to someone who disagrees and is thrown into a gulag.
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it is horrible what they go through. you know, i was going to ask the general -- he was asked by mr. smith, did you ever try to get into the prisons, if he never answered that question, and i think the question was also asked of you -- did you ever try to get into the prisons, and he never answered that question. i would like to ask you that question, and if so, were you allowed to see the prisoners, and if you did not ask to go to see them, i would like to know why you did not, because that is one thing we have been concerned about for a long time. cuba is considered a terrorist state, and i think that we ought to keep that in consideration until there is a reversal of that. if you would answer the question, i would appreciate it. >> thank you, mr. burton.
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if there is time, i will respond to what you said about the hotels and the taxi drivers. >> the one i want to know about is if you asked about the prisoners. >> no, i have never done that. i have advocated on behalf of prisoners of conscience. i have visited them and dissidents. >> really quickly, why did you not ask? >> part of a congressional delegation, i am proud to say that they are an advocate -- >> why did you not ask to go in and see the political prisoners? >> i talked to dissidents on many occasions. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. i do want to remind everyone that there is a hearing that is about to start on south asia, and i recognize the gentleman from texas for five minutes -- i
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recognize the gentleman from texas -- the gentlewoman from texas. >> this is a very important hearing, and i want to thank the other witnesses in their absence and those who were able to stay. president obama took a constructive step of allowing cuban-americans to visit family in cuba as often as they pleased. i think it was a magnificent step, and i think it is a policy change that is productive. i want to start my remarks to say that i was engaged because of my involvement with the ilion gonzales issue -- the involvement with the little boy. it is important to be able to see and to interact with their
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families. i believe that my colleagues articulated the tribulations and challenges of african-americans in this country. as i understand, there is legislation that i have co- sponsored it and support -- i think it is an important policy change. -- that i have co-sponsored and support. individuals you wish to engage in promoting -- who wish to engage in promoting -- all of those individuals, i understand, if this were to become law, would not be banned, so my questions go to the fact that i believe we should have a quid pro quo. our policy is that we do not
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speak to them. we do not travel there. frankly, about was the policy of china. there are some of us still dealing with the human rights abuses in china, but there was just the encounter of our heads of state visiting in asia, and so, we are multitask, and i think in cuba, we should be multitask -- we are multi- tasked, and i think in cuba, we should be multitasked. we understand the pain of incarceration and oppression. for those of us who watched the whole or of south africa, -- the horror of south africa, we know about this. there is a question about this
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-- you suggest that conditioning our policy puts our foreign policy in the hands of the cubans. do you believe that it should be a bilateral, multitasked approach? yes or no? >> eliminating the travel ban should unilateral. the embargo, on your other hand, lifting that embargo -- on the other hand, lifting that embargo would be different. i would not be in favor -- >> so we should be multitasked? thank you. let me speak to mrs. antunez.
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can we help? you may have heard about a league or dr. martin luther king, who obviously has passed. would any of this effort in helping afro-cubas be warmly received prove particularly the afro-cubans? -- would any of this effort in helping afro- cubans be warmly received p? >> [speaking spanish] >> well, if i understood your
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question correctly, yes, that would be good. i tried to do that on a prior occasion. i tried to ask for help for the people of cuba. i brought a letter to the congressional black caucus who had traveled to cuba. i wanted to try to meet with you so i could explain the situation in cuba. >> i think this hearing, mr. chairman, if i may finish -- if you have a letter, i will stand by until the end of this meeting to receive your letter, because i think this would be of assistance to all cubans, including afro-cubans. i am prepared to engage with you. >> the time of the gentle lady has expired. >> [speaking spanish]
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>> the time has expired. why do you not translate? >> i do not have a letter with me now. i brought a letter previously, at a time when people were suffering. including my brother, they were in very bad circumstances. >> the help is offered today. thank you very much. >> ranking member. >> there are a lot of folks about lifting the ban, the group, and they have got their stickers, and i want to thank you for being with us, and i
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just want to say thank you to the ex-political prisoners. thank you very much. it is democracy at work. >> just in closing the hearing, i want to thank the ranking member for her cooperation. this was a vigorous and fascinating exchange of views, and our witnesses were very helpful, the ones who remain and those who had to leave. i think it was a great example of democracy in action and a clash of views and ideas, and i think one thing the entire -- that kind of peaceful clash of ideas be expressed one day in cuba. >> i do not want to give you the
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last word. >> [laughs] >> the question has been asked of various individuals when they go to cuba, do they ask to see political prisoners, and i wanted to be noted for the record that my visit to cuba occurred in 1988 as part of human rights process. at that point in time, we asked and requested a meeting with a group of prisoners in an area that i am probably mispronouncing. i have a sense that some of them are here today. let me just suggest this. we did press the government after that visit, and i
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certainly am not taking credit for it, but i am aware that approximately nine months to one year later, they were released. sometimes, we do not know, good things can happen if we continue to press. i have been on trips with mr. peters. i can assure you that in every single occasion, we have pressed. we have met with dissidents. -- i can assure you that on every single occasion, we have pressed. i know the pain and anguish that they have suffered, as well, so i say this to everyone who is here in the audience today. we understand. >> mr. chairman, would you indulge me just a moment? >> i get the last word. >> would you yet for just a brief moment, mr. chairman?
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-- would you yield for just a brief moment, mr. chairman? >> ok. >> i have made an offer to ms. antunez. let me convey the openness of all members of congress, including the black caucus, to the oppressed people, and i do want to say in all sincerity that i will stay behind to receive information or to reach back to you, because if we are nothing in this country, we are people who fight against oppression, and we are willing to fight against oppression on your behalf. thank you, mr. chairman. >> now, another meeting will take place on oppression, and with that, thank you all, and the hearing is adjourned. [applause]
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>> president obama will address the nation on his new strategy for the war on afghanistan tuesday night at west point. we will have live coverage at 8:00 p.m. eastern. also, the president will travel to copenhagen for the global climate change conference. he will be there on december 9 before heading to oslo to accept the nobel peace prize.
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"the new york times" reported this week that football injuries will be reviewed. you can watch the hearing tonight at 9:05 p.m. eastern. and steven spielberg is being presented with a metal. there is a panel assessing the obama presidency -- presented with a medal. at 5:00 p.m., a hip-hop artist, and later, howard dean and dick armey on the economy and capitalism. thanksgiving day on c-span. >> this thanksgiving holiday, we have got four days of booktv.
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we have books on history, public policy, and politics. you can hear from taylor branch on his new book. there is also an author from the recent miami book festival. watch booktv on c-span2. to get the full schedule, go to booktv.org, and you can also follow book tv on twitter. happy thanksgiving. >> today, a group named single payer action called for the rejection of the health-care bills. single payer means we're one group pays. this is about one hour and 10
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minutes -- means where one group pays. >> good morning. thank you all for coming. i am the president of single payer action, a nonprofit organization. we are looking to secure health insurance for all of the american people. we are less than one year old, and we have more than 1000 people who have signed up. thank you for your support. with your help, we will reach our goal, a single-payer health insurance for the american people. with me today, on my left, a congressional fellow with a health program. also, a man with the coalition for the uninsured and underinsured for single payer.
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a doctor, who is a practicing physician from steny hoyer's district in maryland. on my far right, the executive director of prosperity agenda. we are here today before thanksgiving to say in unison that the bloated democratic health bill is a turkey. we have to start from scratch and pass single-payer health insurance for the american people. we will each make statements and then take your questions. i am speaking on behalf and my organization, and the others will be speaking for their organizations. six months ago on may 5, 2009, several of us were up on capitol hill.
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we were in the senate finance committee hearing room. it was the beginning of three days of hearings to kick off the health-care debate in congress. the room was packed with industry lobbyists from many areas. you name it, they were there. senator max baucus, the chair of the committee, had scheduled three days of hearings on health-care reform. he had asked 41 health-care experts in. not one was an advocate for single-payer national health insurance. single payer is a clear reform. the bill is only 30 pages long. max baucus, obama, and the democrats had taken it off of the table and replaced it with a 2000-page monstrosity. single payer, by contrast, is simple, and it works.
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under this system, the day you are born, you get a card that gives you a free choice of doctors and hospitals anywhere in the united states. you pay no health-care premiums. you receive no bills. instead of the premiums we are paying now, we would pay that amount or less. everybody in. nobody out. single payer saves lives. right now, 45,000 americans die every year from lack of health insurance. under a single-payer system, fewer americans would die every year from lack of health insurance. why? because everybody would be covered. single payer covers everyone. we would replace the health insurance payers with one. in one stroke, we would say $400 billion per year in profit and overhead. we